G. Averof

S. Louis


In every era people learn to survive under the prevalent social conditions and to communicate with their contemporaries. Symbols communicate meaning, they convey messages. People send and receive messages through symbols and symbolic actions. Therefore, communication is based on understanding symbols.

The Olympic Games functioning as a symbol inform us about the social customs and the way people think. In every era people have to learn to survive under the prevalent social conditions and to communicate with their contemporaries. The learning and communication process has to pass through the understanding of symbols: the symbols that come from Antiquity, such as the ancient stadium, the wreath from a wild olive tree etc, and those of the 19th century, such as the king, the music and the scholars.

The establishment of the new Greek state created in the government the need to legalize its authority. The creation of a centralized authority (king and official government) was a completely new experience for the thousands of residents of the Greek state, who had different customs, different way of thinking and different culture. The new political authorities should be accepted and be supported by different groups of people. So, there should be a new language that should be easily understood and accepted by everyone.

Furthermore, this new situation creates new notions, for example the notion of the citizen. What do the people of the Greek state understand by the word "citizen"? How can the people understand the need to obey a central authority? The new authorities have to communicate with the residents of the Greek state. It is necessary to make them understand that they are now citizens of a state. For this purpose, they should discover methods that would enable them to harmonize the various ways of living and thinking. A suitable method is the participation to new experiences, designed by the dominant authority. To this purpose they unified the educational system and organized athletic contests, resulting in the creation of a new culture and the understanding of the new notions.

The figure of the king became the symbol of the national state. The king is represented as the father of the nation and finally is identified with it. He symbolises authority in a way that it should be easily understood and accepted by the people. Through the representation of the king as a father of the nation Greek citizens are invited to obey a common central authority: the Greek state. Therefore, it was predictable that he would be the one to inaugurate the Olympic Games.

The contribution of the individuals was a significant factor for the success of the Games. Some of them participated in the conception of the idea of the revival, others undertook the construction of the athletic facilities and the funding of their first modern organization and others took part in them as athletes. Following the spirit of noble rivalry and the Olympic ideals, Evangelis Zappas, Dimitrios Vikelas and Georgios Averof were the leading figures in favor of the revival of the Olympic Games, where important Greek athletes distinguished themselves, such as Spiros Louis and Kostis Tsiklitiras.


Modern Olympic Games:
From Athens of 1896 to Athens of 2004

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