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Ancient Olympic Games :
The origin of the ancient Olympic Games is lost in the midst of pre-history but for many centuries they were a festival of the Greek people. Zeus was the supreme God of the Greeks. Hercules was the son of Zeus. Nearly three thousand years ago there were several small towns in ancient Greece. There was frequent fighting. There was no peace at ail. Once Hercules won the battle against the King of Elis. Hercules started the game in honour of Zeus and as the token of victory. This game was held at Olympia, capital of the Kingdom Elis.
The main purpose of Hercules was to establish peaceful condition in all the towns. All the residents of these towns were invited to participate in the games. This was in 776 B.C. There was strict order to maintain law and order and peace during the festivals. The games were held after every four years. The Greeks measured time in terms of games started on the first new moon after the summer solstice, around mid July. These Games lasted for five days and the events took place in a precise order.
On the first day, there were sacrifices and opening ceremonies. On the second day, there were special competitions for the “Ophebians.” The third day was devoted to events for the adult competitors - dromos, diaulous, dolichos, wrestling etc. On the fourth day,
there were equestrian events. On the fifth day, there were closing ceremonies, proclamation of the heroes and sacrifices.
During the first six Olympic Games, however, the prize had been a portion of meat or “meria” taken from an animal sacrificed to the Gods. It was only after the VII games that
the Olive crown was given to the winners. Once the prizes were given, a flock of pigeons was released to carry the names of the champions to all the cities of Greece. The infinite glory of the Olympic Games was followed by decline and degradation. Corruption and bad elements entered the games.
The last games were held in 393 AD and it had been 320 times once every four years. Theodosius - 1 the Great Roman Emperor in the east (379-394) and sole Emperor, (394-95) a devote and Orthodox Christian, imposed Christianity on the Roman Empire in 391. He banned the Olympic Games, sacrificial offerings and pagan manifestations. Then his son destroyed the stadium completely. From 395 AD onwards the fall of Olympia was a continuous process. In that year the first damage was caused by the invasion of Alaric’s barbarians.
Then the famous statue of Zeus had been taken to Constantinople. The great fire in 475 AD, attack of the Goths, earthquakes, flooding of the river Cactus and other havocs destroyed Olympia, one after the other. Glony had vanished and of the vast riches there were now left but a few ruins and name of Olympia. Something immortal remained, however, and that was the Olympic spirit.
This is the story of the ancient Olympic Games.
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