Nike as a symbol








Victory (Nike) as the symbol of the spirit and solidarity<

In the beginning, victory was a serious accomplishment, bringing honor not only to the athlete but also to his city. A few years after the end of the Homeric era, personal accomplishments could not be perceived without the contribution and recognition of the athlete's city. The athlete's victory was ever connected to the victory of the city, which thus constituted the only collective body with the right to grant glory and honors.

Furthermore, an extremely important element was the recognition of the personal achievement and the wide recognition of the physical and moral virtue of the athlete. The "patience" displayed during his long period of training and effort was considered a significant virtue. In other words, his ability to suffer silently and be "patient" during training and practice was one of the most important virtues that could be attained and developed by an athlete during his athletic career. "I won three times in boxing with the ability and endurance of my hands" were the proud words of a boxer in an inscription he ordered. Cicero pointed out that frequently willing but not well-trained boxers could withstand blows better than the heat of Olympia! However, the main objective of those who competed was not to develop a specific bodily ability better than the other athletes but to achieve a balanced development of both bodily and moral values.

In addition, moral reward was what made the victory worthy of every effort and bodily pain. The Olympic victors shared the grandeur and eternal glory of the first mythical heroes. The victory was the supreme honor achieved by a mortal man, because he obtained eternal fame, thanks to the gods that favored him and helped him win. The favor of gods and the wide recognition of the victor by his city were the highest trophy, for which every effort should be made during the contest.

Finally, the challenge faced by the Greek world was to promote cooperation and display political unity. Thanks to the truce, all Greek cities could send their official delegations (theoriai) to watch the Games. The cities paid particular importance to the sanctuary, as it is obvious by the delegations sent and the Treasuries they have constructed in the area. Furthermore, the famous Greek philosophers, poets and historians read there their works to the public. These national meetings developed into famous panhellenic festivals and constituted the means through which cultural conscience was promoted and Greek identity was enforced.


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