The earliest Olympic games began more than twenty-five-hundred years ago. What were they like, how were they organised, who participated? Were ancient sports a means of preparing youth for warfare? In this lavishly illustrated book, a world expert on ancient Greek athletics provides the first comprehensive introduction to the subject, vividly describing ancient sporting events and games and exploring their impact on art, literature, and politics. Using a wide array of ancient sources, written and visual, and including recent archaeological discoveries, Stephen Miller reconstructs ancient Greek athletic festivals and the details of specific athletic events. He also explores broader themes, including the role of women in ancient athletics, the place of amateurism, and the relationship between athletic events and social and political life. Published in the year the modern Olympic Games return to Athens, this book will be a source of information and enjoyment for anyone interested in the history of athletics and the origins of the world's most famous sporting event.
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