Ancient Greek Olympics (Ancient Olympic Games)

What Are Ancient Olympics Explain In Detail? | Explanation Of Origin, History, Rules, Events, Duration, Awards Ceremony Of Ancient Greek Olympic Games - www.pupilstutor.com


Ancient Greek Olympics (Ancient Olympic Games)

What Is Ancient Greek Olympics?

The Ancient Olympic Games were held once in four years on the full moon day in the month of August or September at Olympia in Greece in honour of their God Zeus.

We cannot definitely state the origin of these games, but these few legends show that these games were in existence from very remote times.

History and Origin Of Ancient Olympic Games

It was believed by the Greeks that there was a wrestling contest between God Zeus and God Kronos for the Possession of Earth. In the contest God Zeus won and in remembrance of the victory of Zeus, the Olympic Games were started.

Hercules it is said defeated King Augeas and in honour of his victory he instituted the Olympic games (Circa 1253 B.C)

  • People won over king Aenomanus in a chariot race and married the latters daughter Hippodamia.
  • As king Aenomaus died in the race itself. People took his kingdom.
  • Peoples was worshipped as a hero and on behalf of his death the Olympic games instituted (884B.C)

Another version states that Lycurgus, the Great Sparta lawgiver joined hands with lphitus of Elis to Urestoreu the Olympic festival in 820 B.C.

  • The version indicates that the games had been run before.

Thus, these legends clearly show that the Olympic Games had a long past.

Although the origin of the Olympic games is lost if legend and obscurity the year 776 B.C. was reckoned and recorded as the date of the first ancient Olympics.

  • Thanks to the efforts taken by Cleosthenes (King Pisa) and Iphitus (Kin of Ellis) who become weary of the war over the control of Olympia made a sacred truce and revived the ancient Olympic festival.
  • The winner of the first Ancient Olympics in 776 B.C. was Coroebus.
  • From this date onwards the games were held regularly once in four years until 394 A.D with the games were abolished by the Roman emperor Theodosius I.

Rules For Competition In Ancient Greek Olympic Games

  1. The participants should be free-born Greeks.
  2. The amateurs were allowed to participate.
  3. The competition must have had at least 10 months of training prior to their participation in the Olympics.
  4. The final month was spent at Olympia under the control of the Hellanodikai, the official judges of the games.
  5. They should have no criminal record.

Conduct of the Ancient Greek Olympics

  1. Assembly
  2. Sacrifice
  3. Oath
  4. March Past
  5. Opening Ceremony

1) Assembly:

Before the start of the games the competitors, their trainers, their fathers, their brothers and the judges assembled in the council house in front of the statue of Zeus (God of oaths).

2) Sacrifice:

They Sacrificed a pig to Zeus.

3) Oath:

All took an oath that they would not resort to any unfair means to secure victory

  • Further, the competitions took the oath that they had 10 months of training as per Olympic regulations.
  • Thereafter the Olympic judges swore that they would be honest and fair in their decisions.

4) March Past:

The march past took place in which the Trumpeter Officials and the competitors participated.

  • In the courts of the March past as the competitors passed by the Herald announced to the spectators the name of each competitor, his father’s name and his city and asked whether anyone had any charge to make against him.
  • Silence on the part of the specifications was considered as No Objection for the competitor concerned.

5) Opening Ceremony:

  • Then the herald proclaimed the opening of the games.
  • The chief judge or some distinguished person addressed the participants.
  • Afterwards, the events were conducted and the sacred fire was kept burning perpetually at the altar of Zeus.

Events of The Game

Originally foot race was the only item in Ancient Olympics and it was conducted in a single day.

Later on, other events were added and they were

  • Foot race,
  • Horse race,
  • Pentathlon

    • Running,
    • Long jump,
    • Discus throw,
    • Javelin throw and wresting
  • Boxing,
  • Chariot race,
  • Wresting,
  • Pancratium etc.

Duration Of The Ancient Olympic Games

Because of the addition of more events from time to time, the duration of the games was extended to 5 days.


Day 1


The first day was devoted to religious sacrifice and oath-taking and no Competitions were held.


Day 2


On the second day, there was a march past, the introduction of the competitions to the public and the opening of the games. This was followed by chariot race, horse race and pentathlon.


Day 3


The third day was the day of the official sacrifice of 100 oxen in the morning at the Altar of Zeus. In the afternoon footrace; wresting and boxing were conducted for the boys.


Day 4


The fourth day was reserved mainly for the chief athletic events for men via three-foot race and the dual combats (Wresting, boxing and pancratium). The day’s programs would come to an end with the race in armour.


Day 5


The fifth day was the last day which was intended only for feasting and rejoicing.


Originally women were not allowed to compete in the Olympics and married women were not even allowed to witness the competitions.

  • It is understood that women had their own festival called the heraca in honour of hera, wife of God Zeus
  • In this festival, women had athletic competitions.
  • Later on, women were allowed to compete in the Olympics in the Chariot race.

Ancient Greek Olympics Awards Ceremony and Prize Distribution

The Olympic victor was highly honoured.

  • It seems that tripods and other valuable objects were given as prizes to the Olympic victor till the 7th Olympiad.
  • Later on, the only reward from the judges at the Olympic stadium was a wreath made out of Olive leaves plucked from the sacred Olive tree in the temple of Zeus.
  • Poets immortalized his name in poems and sculptors, carved his figure in stones.
  • The concerned Olympiad was named after the name of victor of the state race i.e., 200 yards race.
  • The winners were escorted home in triumph by their fellowmen and loaded with honour, gifts and privileges.
  • We even come to know that they were received in their cities not through the ordinary gates but through a breach made in the walls of the city. They were even considered demo gods.
  • To be crowned a victory in the Olympics was the highest honour to every Greek.
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