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To what extent are the traditions and values of the ancient Olympic Games reflected in those of today?

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Introduction

Word count: 2,572 To what extent are the traditions and values of the ancient Olympic Games reflected in those of today? In this essay I will be comparing in what ways the Olympic Games have changed compared to how it was in ancient Greece. I will also be comparing what values, traditions and rules figured in the ancient Olympic Games and how they have changed over the course of time. Traditionally the Games started at Olympia in 776 BC, about the time of Homer. But for several centuries before that date Olympia had been a cult site for the worship of Zeus. For the ancient Greeks the Olympic Games was a time to show off your skills; make money; take part in a religious festival and of course the most significant thing was to be the victor. Being champion of the Olympic Games back then would have been a great honour as there was only one winner overall who would receive a wreath made from a scared olive branch, unlike today where we have a gold, silver or bronze medal to indicate the champion. To commemorate his success he could get his statue made On the left a winner being presented with a ribbon as a token of victory Similarly modern day athletes receive medals in recognition of their achievements. This photo is from the Athens Olympics of 2004 when athletes were also presented with olive wreaths as it was very special for the Greeks to be able to host the games. ...read more.

Middle

shorts for hygiene and protection whereas with the Greeks clothing was not a necessity as the Greeks saw the human physique as a form of beauty to be displayed and admired. Just as now, the aspect of fitness was essential. This emphasis on training ensured that the standard of competition was as high as possible. Like modern sportsmen, ancient athletes understood that diet for an athlete would normally be made up of fruit, cheese, vegetables, fish and bread. Similarly in the modern day athletes have to train for months and follow a certain diet to be able to enter for the Olympic Games. Most athletes today settle into the Olympic village well before the start of the games to adapt to unfamiliar conditions. Religion pervaded the ancient Olympics unlike today. Zeus was thought to look down on the competitors, favouring some and denying victory to others. 'You could spur on a man with natural talent to strive towards great glory with the help of the gods', says Pindar in a victory ode. An athlete guilty of cheating or bribery was fined. A grand sacrifice of 100 oxen was made to Zeus on the central day of the Games, and Zeus the apomuios, or 'averter of flies', was invoked to keep the sacrificial meat fly-free. Olympia was home to one of Greece's great oracles, an oracle to Zeus, with an altar to him consisting of a massive heap of solidified ash created by burnt sacrificial offerings. ...read more.

Conclusion

'On the road to Olympia ... there is a precipitous mountain ... called Typaeum. It is law of Elis that any Woman discovered at the Olympic Games will be pitched headlong from this mountain', Pausanias, Guidebook to Greece. However women today are freely allowed to join the Olympics with the correct training and today equality between men and women is generally seen as desirable and fair, which was not the case in ancient Greece. In addition the Greeks admired the perfect body and generally "exposed" disabled or unwanted babies whereas in the modern day we have the Paralympics for athletes with disabilities. We also have youth games for young teenagers whereas with the Greeks the young 16 year old boys performed in the Olympics alongside with the older and experienced contestants, therefore not giving them a fair chance at winning. In conclusion I think the extent to which the traditions of the ancient Olympic games are reflected in those of today are very few as people in the modern day have stopped a lot of the rituals such as the sacrifices and now it's more of an inclusive worldwide challenge rather than just one country taking part in it. On the other hand quite a few traditions are still kept such as the procession and lighting of the torch and having elaborate opening and closing events. Additionally the Olympics today are a lot less violent and have more rules compared to those of the ancient Greek times and there is greater scrutiny as to how they are enforced. The sources I used to help me in the production of my coursework. ...read more.

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