Olympics: Preparation and Training

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by CeilidhAnne
Last updated 6 years ago

Health & Fitness

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Olympics: Preparation and Training

The city-states of Greece were often at war. This made travel between them dangerous. So three messengers sent out from Elis travelled all over the Greek world and announced a 'sacred truce' lasting one month before the Games began. This meant people could travel to Olympia in safety. The Olympic Games were more important than wars because they were a religious festival. It was also the heralds' duty to announce the exact date of the festival, to invite the inhabitants. They were known as the "spondophoroi" ("truce-bearers"). The terms of the truce were inscribed on a bronze discus kept in the Temple of Hera. Violaters of the Truce were heavily fined.

10 Months to Go

The Olympic Festival lasted for 5 days, but the preparations took virtually the whole of the preceding year.

The "Hellanodikai" ("Greek judges") were chosen by lot and there were 10 for the most of the history of the Games. One of them acted as the overall supervisor while the rest were divided into three groups, each presiding over different events: equestrian, pentathlon, the remainder of events. They wore robes of purple, the royal colour (as a reminder of King Iphitos). The athletes were required to be in training for 10 months prior to the Games.

1 Month to Go

For at least 1 month before the festival, competitors had to live in Elis and train under the strict supervision of the Hellanodikai. The judges checked to make sure the athletes were fit, verified parentage and Greek descent, and resolved any disputes about classification of men and boys.

Two Days to Go

Two days before the festival began, the whole company set out from Elis, which was roughly 58km from Olympia. (Judges, officials, athletes, trainers, horses, chariots, jockeys, charioteers.) They followed the Sacred Way along the coast, stopping to sacrifice a pig at Piera and spend the night at Letrini.

The Olympics: Preparation and Training

The Sacred Truce

The Sacred Way from Elis to Olympia


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