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As Theatre came into existence as a way to worship Dionysus, the Olympic Games were created as a way to worship Zeus.
According to tradition the games were started in 776 BC and then held every four years after that. Competitors and spectators came from all over Greece to the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia in order to participate.
In the other three years between the “Olympics,” competitions were also held at Delphi in worship of Apollo, at Isthmus to celebrate Poseidon, and again for Zeus at Nemea.
These Panhellenic contests also ensured peacetime in Greece. For the month of the year that the games were held, a truce was enforced between all the different city states.
The majority of competitions were for men alone, who competed naked. However there was one event for women, in celebration of Hera – a short sprint held at another site on the opening day of the games.
The main events at the Olympics were the sprint, discus, javelin, wrestling and boxing. The Greeks also gave us the Pentathlon, where competitors had to excel in the sprint, javelin, long-jump, discus and wrestling.
The most spectacular of the events however was the four-horse chariot race, where the owner of the horses was declared the winner and not the actual charioteer.
The prizes at the Olympics themselves would just be a wreath of olive leaves, but on return to their home state, winners would be given a hero’s welcome and showered with money, processions and even be immortalised in statue form.
I think they should bring back chariot racing!