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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

021 - Athletics and the Panhellenic Games

In this episode, we discuss the culturally unifying importance of Panhellenic festivals in the Greek world; the history and evolution of the athletic program of the Ancient Olympic games; how the various athletic events that the Greeks participated in were performed; some famous athletes and the larger than life quality they achieved; and the four major Panhellenic festivals (Olympic, Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemean)

776 BC - the Olympic Games for Zeus at Olympia were instituted with the only event being the stadion foot race
724 BC - the diaulos was introduced
720 BC - the dolichos was introduced; the games were first performed in the nude
708 BC - wrestling and the pentathlon were introduced
688 BC - boxing was introduced
680 BC - chariot racing was introduced
648 BC -  single horse equestrian races and the Pankration were introduced
ca. 600-575 BC - the Herean Games for Hera at Olympia were instituted, which allowed women to participate prior to the games for the men
582 BC - the Pythian Games for Apollo at Delphi were instituted following their victory against Krissa in the First Sacred War
581 BC - the Isthmian Games for Poseidon at Corinth were instituted following their expulsion of the Cypselid tyranny
573 BC - the Nemean Games for Zeus were instituted
566 BC - the Panathenaic Games at Athens were instituted by the tyrant Peisistratos 
540-516 BC - brilliant wrestling career of Milo of Kroton
520 BC - the hoplitodromos was introduced

Greek wordsekecheiria (literally “a laying down of arms”, a common truce), spondophoroi (runners who ran to each polis to announce beginning of the truce), aristos (best), Hellanodikai (judges of the Olympic Games), Hellanodikaion (place where the judges lived leading up to the games), nomophylarchoi ("guardians of the law" who trained the judges), leukoma (list of approved participants in the games), diazomata (loin-cloths), gymnos (naked), stadion (footrace of 180-240 meters, Latin stadium), balbis (starting block), Olympionikes (Olympian victor), diaulos (two stadion race), kampter (turning post), dolichos (foot race of about 18-24 laps, or 5 kilometers), pale (wrestling), plethron (measure of distance about 100 feet), pente (five), athlon (competition), pentathlon (competition of five events), triagmos (three events; long jump, javelin throw, and discus throw), ankyle (leather strip for gripping javelin), ekebolon (long jump event for distance), stockastikon (long jump event for accuracy), halteres (stone weights held by long jumpers), pygmachia (boxing), korykos (punching bags), himantes (wraps on hands for punching), sphairai (harder punching gloves), oxys (wrist and forearm protection), harmatodromia (chariot racing), tethrippon (four-horse race), synoris (two-horse race), xystis (sleeved garment worn by charioteers), keles (single horse race), hippodromos (horse-race course), hippos (horse), dromos (course), embolon (barrier dividing hippodromos), hyspleges (starting gates for horse races), pankration/pammachion (all-out MMA style fighting event), kratos (strength), mache (fight), Pankratiastos (Pankration fighter), ephedros (literally "reserve", those who get a bye in a round), anephedros (those who won without a bye), hoplitodromos (hoplite race), hekatombe (one-hundred bull sacrifice), hekaton (one-hundred), bous (bull), kotinos (symbolic honor of a garland given to victors), theoroi (sacred citizens sent from Delphi to announce games), periodonikes (winner of all four games in one cycle, "grand slam" equivalent), akrocheirismos (literally "highhandedness" or someone who wrestled at arm's length), hellenikon (literally "the Greek thing", i..e. Greekness)

Supplementary Resources (Videos, Photos, Other Podcasts)

Map/Religious Sanctuaries in the Aegean

Video/Athletics & Sport (Digital Diogenes)

Video/The Origin of the Olympic Games (Monarchs Factory)

Recommended Podcast Episodes:


  1. Am enjoying this podcast and learning a lot, so thanks for that. Just one comment on style though if I may and that is your transitions from one piece of information to another. In almost every case, you do this by saying ' any event...'. That's obviously perfectly fine in normal conversation, but when you're using it upwards of a dozen times per episode (and sometimes 3 or 4 times in the space of about 2 minutes of content), it really starts to detract from enjoying the content. These sorts of verbal tics are much more noticeable in a podcast where all the listener has to go on is your words. My advice would be to simply not bother with the transitions in the current way you're doing them - it is clear enough from context that you're providing some additional information before returning to the main narrative without adding in any verbal filler.

    In any event (;-)), I appreciate all the work and am looking forward to hearing more of the story of Greece.

    1. Hey Erin,
      I am glad you are enjoying the podcast! Thanks for the feedback. I suppose it's a habit I have that I don't even realize I am doing. Sorry about that. Check out the newest episode just posted and tell me if the transitions sound any better. thanks!