What is the significance of ancient Greek 776 BC? This is the year when the first official Olympic Games were played for the first time. This game has come to symbolize excellence and true sportsmanship in the modern world.
It is held once every four years. Because of the widespread popularity of the Olympic Games, the ancient Greek 776 BC is such a significant time.
Only one athletic event was a part of the ancient Olympics for the first 13 Olympic games until 724 BC when more events started to be added to the games.
The Olympic Games were held in order to honor Zeus and the other Greek gods of Olympia. The time chosen for the games was the full moon of midsummer. This time was chosen so that the players could get the light for a long time.
Myths about its origin
Another myth said that the Oracle prophesied that the king of Pisa, Oenomaus would be killed by the husband of her daughter, Hippodamia. So the king decreed that whoever wanted to marry his daughter would have to drive her away in a chariot which would be followed by the king in another chariot and if he caught up with them he would kill the suitor. The king’s chariot was supernaturally fast as it was a gift from Poseidon.
The daughter fell in love with Pelops and so before the race Pelops persuaded the king’s charioteer to replace the bronze axle pins of the king’s chariot with wax ones. So naturally when the race began, the wax melted killing the king in a fall from the chariot.
So Pelops organised the chariot races as funeral games in honor of the deceased king and also as a form of Thanksgiving to the gods so that he could be forgiven for his sins. The race was held at Olympia which inspired the beginnings of the ancient Olympic Games.
Some features and events marking Olympic Games of ancient Greek 776 BC:
The Olympic Games gave birth to so many traditions and systems that Greek 776 BC assumed special importance. The impact of some of these features spread far beyond the games. Some of them are:
1. The Olympics in ancient Greece 776 BC was marked by a sedate foot race. However, the rules became much more competitive later on.
2. The purpose of the Games in ancient Greece 776 BC was religious worship, especially to revere the gods of Olympia. Hence, the first day of the Games opened with the worship of the gods and sacrifices for them.
3. Chariot races, foot races, boxing, wrestling and many other athletic events were held during the Olympic Games. In ancient Greece 776 BC, fourteen events were held over a period of five days. The numbers have multiplied since then.
4. One characteristic of the Olympic Games that started from ancient Greece 776 BC is the tradition of holding physical contests in the nude. The origin of this tradition is somewhat unclear, but it was a well-documented ritual. Married women were not allowed to view these nude contests.
5. The most solemn moment in the entire program was held on the third day when one hundred bulls were sacrificed to Zeus. The thighs were burned as offerings while the rest was used for the banquet.
6. The symbol of the victory was the live branch of the olive which was awarded in this game, the tradition starting in ancient Greece 776 BC.
7. The victors have rewarded in many other ways also. Cash prizes were common. They were given preferential treatment at public gatherings while statues and monuments were erected to honor them. Even the four-year interval between the Games called the Olympiad was named after a victory.
8. One important feature of this gathering which started in ancient Greece 776 BC was that there existed mutual truce for three months before and also after the game so that athletes and spectators could travel and practice safely. The site of the Games, Elis and Olympia were regarded as sacred and no armed person was allowed here. This truce helped in the prosperity of Greece.
The Olympic Games started in 776 B.C. in ancient Greece still continue to be a symbol of international freedom and peace and promote the spirit of free and healthy competition.
Different types of events in the Ancient Olympic Games
Although the inaugural Olympic in 776 BC consisted of only a foot race, later games added other events to its list and some them were:
- Equestrian events
- Combat sports
Why did the Olympics survive since 776 BC?
The ancient Olympic games which started in 776 BC being held in Olympia of Greece continued to about 393 AD before its eventual decline. The term Olympics stayed in popular memory and was used for terming sporting events in the modern era. It was with the Greek war of independence in the 19th century when there was revived interest in the Olympic game.
Evangelos Zappas, a wealthy Greek philanthropist revived the ancient Games in Greece in 1856 where only Greek and ottoman athletes participated and it was only in 1896 that the first Olympic Games in the modern form with competing athletes from the whole world participating was started.
What is the difference between Ancient Greek Olympics and Modern Olympic Games?
Although the Modern Olympic games are greatly influenced by the ancient Olympics but there are some fundamental differences between the two.
Firstly, the ancient games were mostly a religious festival in honor of Zeus while the modern games are a complete sporting extravaganza.
The ancient games were mainly a Panhellenic event taking place only in Olympia, Greece where only free Greek men participated while the modern game is a worldwide multicultural and multi-gender event attracting participants from all over the world and from both men and women participated.
Only the winner was awarded the olive branch as a prize unlike the modern tradition of giving prizes to the top 3.
So the two versions of the games, although influenced by each other and similar in many ways, are placed in two different historical ages with different motives and aims.