When did the Olympic Games begin? The Olympic Games are not only about sport but also about society and history. Swide finds describe the origins…
We have kept you up to date with the most Iconic Olympic moments and we are all eager for the London Olympics to start, but do you know when and why everything started for real?
The Olympic Games began over 2,700 years ago in Olympia, southwest Greece. The modern Olympic Games we see today restarted only in 1896 and are in fact inspired to those who supposedly begun in 776 BC. They were closely linked to the religious cult of Zeus: the games were organised in his honour every four years. In the central part of Olympia there was in fact his temple, with the statue of the King of all gods (Zeus) covered in gold and ivory.
The Games aimed to show the good physical qualities of young people, no matter their station in life. The winner was awarded right after the competition by placing a palm branch in his hands and red ribbons were tied on his head. Winners could also marry rich women as well as get invitations to important parties and events. The Games were held in an Arena and involved wrestling, boxing, the long-jump, javelin and the discus.
Only men were allowed to attend the Games, but unmarried women had their own “Olympic games” at Olympia every four years, called the Heraia, held in honour of Hera, wife of Zeus.
Greek art often took inspiration from the Olympic Games to create beautiful artefacts. One of the most famous statues in Greek art is the Discobolus of Myron, a famous Greek sculpture that was completed towards the end of the Severe period, circa 460-450 BC.
Also amphoras where painted in black on terracotta vases, with the different moment of each competition. This was done not only for artistic purposes but also as visual record, and today we can reconstruct the history and the different disciplines in use then also thanks to these archaeological finds.
Written by: Elisa della Barba