Describe what a spectator would enjoy at the five-day olympics

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Alex Jones


Describe What a Spectator Would Enjoy in the 5 Day Olympics

It is thought that the first Olympic Games were held in 776BC in Olympia, and were continued every 4 years until 393AD, when the king Theodosius I terminated them as part of his battle to enforce Christianity as the state religion.  The historic origins of the games aren’t fully known, however, many myths exist to explain them. There are four main legends: one involving Pelops and his fight to win the Olympic kingdom; another explains how Heracles won a race at Olympia and vowed the games should forever continue at 4 year intervals; the next claims that Zeus created the games as a celebration of his defeat of the Titan Cronus; and the last told of a prophetess who advised King Iphitos of Elis to hold the Olympic games in honour of the Gods. This he did, and was also advised that wars should stop during the 5 day festival as a sign of respect to the Gods. The games themselves were a collection of athletic, combat and equestrian events usually held at the hottest time of the year, which coincided with the lull in agriculture. They were attended by many because of the celebration of religion as well as sport, as athletic ability was said to be a gift from the Gods, and because everyone was guaranteed a safe journey to and from Olympia. However, for visitors to the games, there were strict regulations to abide by. Only males were permitted to attend who were of Greek citizenship, and had not been convicted of murder or sacrilege.

Day One of the games was mainly occupied by a traditional oath-taking ceremony whereby spectators would view each athlete, their fathers, brothers and trainer, having to swear, over the entrails of a boar, that they would not cheat during the games. This was a vital part of the proceedings, and is thought to have taken up the morning and the first part of the afternoon. After this, the athletes were called upon again to swear that they had carefully prepared themselves for the Games, and had trained for the most part of 10 months. Training would have been held in the athletes’ home cities until a month before the Games, when they would complete their final training at Olympia or Elis. It is here that athletes learned the codes and conventions of fair play and honourable competition. Following this, were the judges’ oaths in which they swore to be fair and honest when it came to inspecting the men and colts before they took part in their chosen events. They also had promise not to accept any bribes they may be offered during the course of the festival. This would all take place under the statue of Zeus.  What the spectators would most enjoy on this first day would be the procession, which would progress from the city state of Elis, 34 miles from Olympia. The procession would consist of judges in purple robes, followed by referees, heralds, athletes, and the trainers. The Olympic Flame was lit by the sun, and would last for the whole 5 days.

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Day Two of the Olympic Games had a distinct separation between the mornings’ and the afternoons’ events. Spectators would see the equestrian events in the morning, in which horses would be divided into categories according to their age and team size. There was a group for horses of all ages, and one for colts only; and there was an event for horses with two in a team, and another for four. These were exciting to watch for the spectators because fatal crashes often occurred between the chariots of four horses going at high speeds. The afternoon’s events were held at ...

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