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Ολυμπιακοί αγώνες

The Olympic Games were a series of athletic competitions held for representatives of various city-states of Ancient Greece held in honor of Zeus. The exact origins of the Games are shrouded in myth and legend but records indicate that they began in 776 BC in Olympia in Greece. They were celebrated until 394 AD . The Games were usually held every four years, or olympiad, as the unit of time came to be known. During a celebration of the Games, an Olympic Truce was enacted so that athletes could travel from their countries to the Games in safety. The prizes for the victors were wreaths of laurel leaves. The Games became a political tool used by city-states to assert dominance over their rivals. Politicians would announce political alliances at the Games, and in times of war, priests would offer sacrifices to the gods for victory. The Games were also used to help spread Hellenistic culture throughout the Mediterranean. The Olympics also featured religious celebrations and artistic competitions. A Statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was erected at Olympia to preside over the Games, though it no longer stands. Sculptors and poets would congregate each olympiad to display their works of art to would-be patrons.

The ancient Olympics were rather different from the modern Games. There were fewer events, and only free men who spoke Greek could compete (although a woman Bilistiche is also mentioned as a winner). As long as they met the entrance criteria, athletes from any country or city-state were allowed to participate. The Games were always held at Olympia rather than alternating to different locations as is the tradition with the modern Olympic Games.There is one major commonality between the ancient and modern Games, the victorious athletes are honored, feted, and praised. Their deeds were heralded and chronicled so that future generations could appreciate their accomplishments.

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