The evolution of the Olympic Games

The evolution of the Olympic Games

The program of the Ancient Olympic Games was developed in final form in 472 B.C. and lasted without major changes until 2nd Century A.D. The crown of wild olive branches was not only sought after by athletes but also by poets and orators.

All free Greek citizens from various city-states of the Greek mainland and its colonies were permitted to participate and watch the games. According to a very strict rule all non-Greeks (barbarians), slaves, criminals and women were not allowed to enter the stadium or to attend the games.

The only woman allowed to attend was the priestess of Demeter, Chamyne, who received this honorary position every 4 years and sat on an altar in-side the stadium, opposite to the seats of the judges.

In Roman times it was Regilla, Herodes Atticus' wife, who took the honorary position. Interestingly enough, there were special running contests for virgin women, held in Olympia, in honor of the goddess Hera every four years. This lasted only for the period of the Games.

The athletes competed naked with the exception of horse races and chariot races when the ath-letes wore a loincloth around their waste. Two, and later twelve, Hellanodikai (literally meaning "the judges of the Greeks") handled the organization of the Games.

Originally it was a lifelong inherited position that later became appointment by election. The main duties of the Hellanodikai were the judgment of the right to participate, and the supervision of the training and the Games. The Games were held every four years - usually on the first full moon of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, which is the month of August.


History of Olympic Games (Introduction)
The initial form of the Olympic Games
The athletic events
The evolution of the Olympic Games
The days of the Olympic Games
Some other versions about the origins of the Games
The Polynikes (multi-winners)
The meaning of the Olympic Games for Greece
The modern Olympic Games