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By David C. Young

For greater than a millennium, the traditional Olympics captured the imaginations of the Greeks, till a Christianized Rome terminated the competitions within the fourth century advert. however the Olympic perfect didn't die and this publication is a succinct background of the traditional Olympics and their sleek resurgence.

Classics professor David younger, who has researched the topic for over 25 years, unearths how the traditional Olympics developed from modest beginnings right into a grand pageant, attracting countless numbers of hugely informed athletes, tens of millions of spectators, and the best artists and poets.

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But in the early sixth century bc, athletes began to come from all over the Greek world. And a long, impressive series of victories by athletes from Magna Graecia began (see chapter 9). For many years the Olympics held center stage – indeed, the only regularly recurrent show in Greece. There were other athletic con tests. Funeral games still took place now and then (Roller 1981: 1–18). And there probably were competitions at local, annual festivals. But there were no other Panhellenic athletic festivals which drew contestants at a pre-arranged time from all parts of the Greek world.

Only one thing is wholly certain: the runners used a standing start, not the start from all fours which is now standard in the shorter modern races. There are many artistic representations of an individual runner at the start. Vase paintings and plastic art show athletes in two different upright starting positions. In the first of these, the athletes place one foot a few inches in front of the other, the arms stretched forward. In the second starting style, the athletes have their feet and legs together, parallel, and their knees are slightly bent.

Promoters can in many places now organize such contests, and they are taped for television. 295 Combat and Equestrian Events A bloody boxing match; British Museum, b–f Ampbhora, Most people call these new contests “ultimate fighting,” but some even still use the ancient Greek name, pancration. ” The presence of such an event as an integral part of the Olympic program surprises those who are overly credulous about the “glories of ancient Greece,” and often even idealize ancient Greeks as a people with especial restraint and BHOC04 42 16/4/04, 4:47 PM Combat and Equestrian Events 43 humanity.

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