Nike as a symbol








The importance of the Olympic Games

The emergence of city-states in the Hellenic world was accompanied by the expansion of organized athletic activities, which were related to other celebrations of local or panhellenic character. The most important of these athletic competitions were the Olympic Games, which attracted people from nearly all the Greek cities. Hostilities stopped during the Olympic Games, a fact that added prestige to them and established their reputation throughout the Hellenic world. Each city-state had the ambition to have the greatest number of Olympic victors and this resulted in the institution of many laws that encouraged athletics. Lucian, in ca 170 BC, mentions characteristically:

"And we compel citizens to exercise their bodies not only for the games, so that they can win the prizes -for very few of them go there- but also to gain a greater good from it for the whole city, and for themselves".

Most importantly though, is that the Olympic Games were mainly a religious festival and not just a series of athletic events, like they are today.


Short description of the monuments at ancient Olympia

3D reconstructions:
Some of the most important buildings in ancient Olympia rendered in three-dimensions.

3D reconstruction of the Temple of Zeus in ancient Olympia.

Other games:
Short reference on other famous contests in ancient Greece

In the first person:
Young Ariston shares his experience in the Olympic Games

Olympic victors:
Database of the ancient Olympic victors based on each athletic event and each Olympiad

Specimen sources