This is the event that people all over the world watch, on television or in the arena, this is the place gold medals are earned and lost. This is the Olympics. Did you know that unmarried women could watch the ancient Olympics? Or that one person ate paper as a warm up food? Though wacky, it is true, and there is a lot more to go along with that. Welcome to the Olympics. “May the odds be ever in your favor!” - Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games.
Greece is the origin of the Olympics, plain and simple. The Olympics were traced to 776 BC, in the 8th century B.C. They were supposedly created by Hercules. They were first held for just one day, but then were extended in the 7th century B.C., to three days. In the 5th century B.C., the games were extended again to cover five days. The Olympics continued for nearly 12 centuries, until Emperor Theodosius exclaimed in in the 4th century, that all such "pagan cults" be banned. In the 8th century, the Olympics reappeared. I’m happy that they did.
Although ever changing, the (newer) Ancient Olympics still had some of the same events. They were first held in Olympia, and consisted of only foot races. More events were added, starting with wrestling and pentathlon. (A pentathlon consisted of discus, javelin, jumping, running, and wrestling.) In discus, part of the pentathlon, the discs were different, based on the athletes’ age, weight and personal preferences. When victors won, they received their award immediately after the competition. Following the announcement of the winner's name by the herald, a Hellanodikai (Greek judge) would place a palm branch in the winner’s hands, while the spectators cheered and threw flowers to him. Red ribbons were tied on his head and hands as a mark of victory. Milo the Crolong, won six consecutive games, and was compared to Hercules by the Greeks. Milo was said to train by carrying a calf every day. As the calf grew heavier, his muscles got stronger. Unexpected things happened too. During the 14th Olympiad, the clothes fell off a man who was running, but he still won the race. Painters, actors, poets, and musicians also came to show their talents at the games. Aside from the artistic talents, the men weren’t the only ones to get in the Olympic spirit.
Married women could not compete, or even watch. Unmarried girls had advantages at Olympia, they not only had their own athletic contests of the Hera festival in which to participate, but they were also allowed to watch the men's and boys' contests of the festival of Zeus. Married women, on the other hand, were not allowed to participate in the athletic contests of the Hera festival, and were barred on penalty of death from the Sanctuary of Zeus on the days of the athletic competition for boys and men. One woman, Pharenese, decided to go against the rule, because she wanted to see her son to win. Pharenese trained her son for the Olympics, then dressed like a man and snuck in. She watched him, then when he won, she ran to...