15 Amazing Facts About The Ancient Olympics

There are various interesting facts related to ancient Olympics which we are sure our dear readers would like to know about. But before we start with this awesome post, let us first offer a quick glance at this ‘gargantuan sporting event’ that put ancient Greece on the world map. We all know how our ancient Greek brothers loved sports. Sporting events were hosted for religious purposes too wherein the main gods of honor would be Zeus and Dionysus. Originally held for five days, the Olympic Games in ancient Greece were founded by the supreme God Zeus, as per some legends. Dating back to the 8th century BC, these games have become an iconic symbol of world brotherhood and peace. If you think you know all about the Olympics, you are wrong. Prep yourselves up as we begin to awaken you from your sleep and help you get to know more about these ancient games.

1. There are many myths associated with the origin of the Olympic Games

Ancient Olympics Facts

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There are a few myths that comprise a certain portion of ancient Olympics facts that are featuring today, the first among them relates to the origin of these games. There are a few legends that suggest that the first ever Olympics were founded by Zeus himself. As per another account, Zeus’s son Heracles competed in a race in Olympia and passed a mandate that the race will be repeated every four years. Some historians claim that these games were started in honor of Zeus as part of a religious festival. There was a site in Peloponnesos named Olympia that hosted the first ever Olympics. However, the more reliable sources claim that the games started in 776 BC with a baker named Koroibos competing in a stadion race. Since then, the games continued to be held in Olympia every four years. This trend continued for the next 12 centuries.

2. Most participants in the Olympics belonged to affluent families

Ancient Olympics Facts

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Quite contrary to the belief that slaves competed in the Olympic Games, it were the young menfolk of rich families who took part in the ancient Olympic Games. To most of us, it has always seemed that only slaves took part in the games but the fact isn’t so. The Olympic Games were different than those that were held for the gladiators. In these games, mostly young men from affluent families participated for which they trained on their own, spending their own money for the training. One such ancient account mentions a participant who belonged to the Armenian Royal Family called Varazdat. He participated in one of the events and won.

3. The Stadion Race was the sole event in the first Olympics

Ancient Olympics Events

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One of the first ancient Olympics event to have been hosted was the stadion race. In the first Olympics this race was the one and only event to be organized wherein athletes would run a race of 190 meters. In this race, athletes appeared in nude. It took place in a building which in English is called stadium, and hence was named after it. Stadion race was the prime event in the Olympics from 776 to 724 BC. Any man who was declared the winner of this race would go on to lend his name to the entire gaming event. Stadion was the most prestigious sports event of the Olympics.

4. All the Olympic competitors participated in nude

Ancient Olympics Events

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There was one very peculiar aspect associated with ancient Olympics – NUDITY. While, earlier most of us believed in the notion that it was only for artistic pursuits that ancient Greek Olympians appeared naked. But, it wasn’t just the artists impression that made us believe so. In fact, all the participants of the games had to be sans any clothing. All the sports were competed in nude. Nudity was a commonly accepted norm and it all started in 720 BC by the Spartans. There is one particular episode in which a runner called Orsippos ran the stadion race in his ‘birthday suit’. The event was quite hilarious as the runner happened to loose his shorts while running but completed the whole run without them. Since, Olympics was considered a religious event too, participating in nude was considered to be a symbol of tribute to the Greek gods.

Also Read: 15 Popular Ancient Greek Gods and their Stories

5. Coroebus of Elis, a baker was the winner of the first recorded Olympic Games

Who took part in the ancient Olympic games

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Among a host of ancient Olympic events that were popular in ancient Greece, the stadion race was the most prestigious. In the first ever recorded Olympics, a man named Coroebus of Eleia ran the race and was declared the winner. Whether he was a baker or cook is still not clear, but he went on to become the winner of the first Olympian games for which he was honored with an olive branch, a prize that was given to Olympic winners in ancient times.