Between the competitions and the excess of wine, the body was the limit in the Olympic Games of Classical Greece.
Unlike the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, ancient Greeks conceived of sporting events from a sacred plane . As part of a heritage from the top of Mount Olympus, the competitions celebrated the physical prowess and mental toughness of athletes, in each of the categories.
A healthy mind in a healthy body
The cult of the body was a daily matter in Ancient Greece. In addition to crystallizing the values of courage, order, and effort that an athlete should follow, this principle obeys a Platonic maxim: “A healthy mind in a healthy body.” The display of all the power of the human organism, naturally, was seen among the elite athletes who participated in sporting events.
For this reason, all the participants competed completely naked. Some historians attribute this condition to the initiation rites that were carried out at the time, as part of the mysticism that implied being an outstanding athlete in the splendor of Classical Greece. Also, all the bodies were male.
It is recorded that the first Olympic village was in the city of Elis where, a month before the inauguration, the athletes had to hone their skills. Once the preparations and final training were finished, they would move to Olympia, where a crowd of about 50 thousand spectators would wait for them, eager for a sporting spectacle.
Married women could not attend the ancient Olympics. Rather, they had to stay home while the free men watched the competitors – all, too, male. There is a record that, on some occasions, single women could watch the competitions from the stands, accompanied by their parents. Participating was an exclusive right of the male population, in which they were not considered.
Although it is true that the majority of women could not participate in the ancient Olympic Games, it is a reality that there was a very small group of female athletes who had special events. In honor of the Amazon warriors, led by the god of war, Ares, they had an exclusive space in hunting and archery categories.
Despite the fact that the Olympic Games in ancient times were a space to venerate physical and mental health, outside the stadium’s wholesale food and wine vintages were organized.
Finally, the Greeks were always characterized as a civilization that knew how to celebrate. Although it is true that a healthy body is one that does not fall into excesses, the parties provided an exceptional space for the disciplinary rigor demanded by sporting events. The body was the limit.