Every four years for over 1100 years, from 776 BC to 393 AD, thousands of people ceased all warfare and flocked to a small sanctuary in northwestern Greece for five days in the late summer for a single reason — to witness the Olympic Games. During that time, competitors from all over the Greek world competed in a number of athletic events and worshipped the gods at the sanctuary of Olympia. The athletes competed not for money or material goods, but only for the honor of being an Olympic victor. Today I am going to talk to you about the ancient Olympic Games.
You will be informed of where and when the Olympics were first held, facts about the ancient Olympics, and comparisons and contrasts between the ancient and modern Olympics; starting with when and where the very first Olympics were held. The first Olympics were held in Olympia, Greece in 776 BC. The only competition recorded to be held was the Stadion footrace. (Stadion- The stadion was originally a unit of measurement, 600 feet in length, which gave its name to the footrace of the same distance. Another contribution that the Olympics had was the Greek calendar, the Olympiad, which was the four year period between games. Every four years the games were started on the first full moon after the solstice, lasting for five days. This shows how much the Olympics meant to the people of Greece. The Olympics were held every four years from 776 BC until 393 AD. The ancient Olympic games lasted for over 1100 years and if the modern games were to last as long as the ancient games, then we will still be having Olympic competitions until over the year 3500 AC.
The Olympic Games were held every 4 years, and were never interrupted. The Olympic truce protected the city from attack during the games. The games were even held in 480 BC during the Persian Wars. In 146 BC, the Romans gained control of Greece and, therefore of the Olympic Games. The Roman general Sulla ended up moving the 175th Olympiad to Rome, where the games declined in popularity due to the spread of Christianity. They were finally abolished in 393AD by the Christian Byzantine Emperor. This competition of the greatest athletes was hoped to be started again.
The revival of the Modern Olympic was on account of a French educator named Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He started this dream in 1894 when he founded the International Olympic Committee with the intention of restoring the Ancient Olympic Games. He believed that international competitions between amateur athletes would help promote friendly relationships between people from different countries. Despite strong opposition, de Coubertin assembled 79 delegates from 12 countries to attend the international congress for the re-establishment of the Olympic Games.
It was decided to hold the first modern Olympics in Athens in two years time. The 1896 Athens Games was a great success. The Olympics had returned to its land of their birth. Thirteen countries competed at the Athens Games. Nine sports had an agenda: cycling, fencing, gymnastics, lawn tennis, shooting, swimming, track and field, weight lifting, and wrestling. The 14 man US team dominated the track and field taking first place in 9 or 12 events. The games were a success and the second Olympiad was scheduled to be held in France.
The Modern Olympics and the Ancient Olympics have many things in common. De Coubertin brought many Greek traditions. The modern Olympics were returned to Athens, Greece. Also, the athletes were trained to have the same competitiveness as before. But, despite its similarities, there are also many differences. The most recognizable difference is that the ancient Olympians used to compete in the nude. Other changes being that women can obviously now compete, being of many great Olympic victors. Also, there are many more games to play or watch such as swimming, gymnastics, or tennis.
Now you know why people still do come to see or watch the finest competition of athletes in the world. Every four years for over 1100 years, from 776 to 393 AD, thousands of people ceased all warfare and flocked to a small sanctuary in northwestern Greece for five days in the late summer for a single reasonto witness the Olympic Games. I have now informed you with everything you can ever know about the ancient and modern Olympics, where they took place, why they fell, and who brought them back. I hope that the next time that you watch the Olympics, this year in Athens, you will remember how it all got started.