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The Ancient Olympics

news editor25 June 2012

  Annette Mitchell, UCL Greek & Latin PhD student

The first Olympic Games are thought to have occurred in 776 BCE. It was held at Olympia in honour of Zeus and was the first in a series of four Panhellenic games.

These Panhellenic games, held in honour of other Gods, also consisted of the Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian Games, and were attended by delegates from the various Greek city-states. The last Olympics occurred in 394 CE in order to supress paganism in favour of Christianity.

The ancient roots of this now modernised global event are often forgotten and Professor Chris Carey of the UCL Greek and Latin Department has organised a series of events – listed on the Roman Society website – in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics to jog our ‘memory’.

These events focus on various aspects relating to the ancient Greek roots of the games. These include ancient ideas regarding anatomical ideals and the ideology of victory, and modern aspects such as the revival of the games in Athens in 1896.

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