Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Olympia The Site of the Grecian games Part.II

Olympic Games for mere mortals were established in 776 BC, in honour of sacred truce made between the warring kings of the city states of Elis and neighbouring Pisa. Foot races were held, and a man from Elis called Coroebus was the victor. Then, and afterwards, the names of the winning contestants were written down for posterity: the records of the Olympics provide the central chronology of ancient Greek history.
The Games expanded over the centuries to include races on horseback and in chariots, jumping and throwing events, and several forms of unarmed combat. By the 5th century BC, the Games had become the supreme festival in ancient Greece, and a fixed programme of competitions had been agreed.
Despite the truce, the control of the Games continued to be a source of friction between Pisa and Elis. By about 700 BC their rivalry become so intense that the Greek states banded together to replace the local truce with a country wide armistice, a tradition observed throughout the 1000 years spanned by those early Olympics. Capital punishment was suspended and legal actions postponed. To fight a war during the Games or in the month leading up to them was sacrilege. Any violation of the truce was firmly punished.
The festival was supervised by the people of Elis, and required much preparation. Months beforehand, ambassadors called spondophoroi were dispatched to the Greek cities and to colonies in Egypt and the Crimea to announce the opening day and judges were chosen by lot from among the citizens of Elis. The judges, the hellanodikai, supervised the athletes’ training and organized the events, as well as judging the results.


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