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Ancient Greece Olympic Games The Olympic Games began in ancient G

The Olympic Games began in ancient Greece in 776 BC and continued until 395 AD. The games were held at Olympia on the Peloponnesse and attracted visitors from all over the Greek world. The central attraction was the games, of course, but Olympia, the site of the games, was also a reason many visitors came just to see this huge architectural achievement. The games were revived a century ago and have become a major business enterprise televised around the world, and countries compete for the right to host both the winter and summer games.

The ancient games were held in honor of Zeus, the supreme god in Greek mythology, and visitors to Olympia were making a pilgrimage to Zeus's most sacred place, the grove known as Altis (Swaddling 7). There are several legends regarding the origin of the games, and the date ascribed to that event is traditional but uncertain. Indeed, competitions were held on an annual basis before 776 BC on an unofficial basis. One of the legends involved the Delphic Oracle calling for the reinstitution of the games after a period of civil war, and the idea of the Olympic Truce would become a major instrument in the unification of the Greek states and colonies (Swaddling 9). Pindar told the story that the games extended back to the time when Heracles was given the task of cleaning out the Augean stables. When Heracles cleaned out the stables by diverting two rivers, King Augeas refused to pay him, so Heracles killed the king and his entire family, then instituted the Olympic games in celebration. Whatever the true story, the games from earliest times had a religious significance, "and there is some reason to believe that they were a gradual development of the custom of common sacrifice by neighboring communities, which prevailed as Greece emerged from the pugnaciousness of the heroic age" (Henry 11).

A more believable version is that Lycurgus, the great Spartan lawyer, joined with Iphetus, king of Elis, t...

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