Though not strictly a Canadian post, it does speak of the Olympics, in which Canadian athletes will compete for medals — there is the Canadian tentative link [grin]!
“Nothing renders a man more renowned in his own lifeetime tthan what he can do with his hands and feet.” – Homer, The Odyssey
The Olympics of today originated in Greece. But how did it all start?
Well, I suppose we could go as far back as c. 2000 BC when colonists migrated to an area of Greece that would later be known as Olympia, This is where an altar to Zeus was created , Then a surge in population around c. 900 – 800 BC, led to the spread of independent city-states and a wave of colonization. Institutions began to rise up, designed to unite these scattered communities and reinforce Panhellenic, or all-Greek, heritage. One of these institution was the Olympic Games.
The first Olympic Festival was held to woo the gods in 776 BC in Elis, Greece. It was very simple – they only had a single sport: a foot race. The winner was a cook from Elis by the name of Coroebus. Then in 476 BC, a big stadium was built at Olympia. The first Olympic Games, under the Roman auspices, were held in 144 BC. Unfortunately, there were several Roman civil wars, and the sanctuary were ransacked.
Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, announced a peace throughout his empire in 27 BC; and so the Olympic Games thrived for the next three hundred years!
In AD 312, Constantine the Great proclaimed that Christianity was to be the official religion of the entire Roman Empire. This marked the end of the Games. As a matter of fact, all pagan festivals were banned by Emperor Theodosius I and the Games are officially banned in AD 394. Between AD 426 and AD 522, Theodosius II destroyed Olympia; then further damaged was done by first an earthquake, and later by floods that buried the area where the stadium once stood.
My next Olympic history post will concentrate on what is called “Modern Olympics.” It’s more interesting, I’m sure you will agree … than you would have guessed!