When All Olympic Athletes Were Nude

When All Olympic Athletes Were Nude

Everyone interested in the Olympic Games knows that the whole thing started back in ancient Greece. The original intention was to honour Zeus and the rest of the ancient gods that were worshiped back then. And the funniest thing about it was that all the athletes were competing naked, as a rule.

But why?

It does seem very strange that they would all be competing naked, and the reason is still a very debated topic among historians and scholars. We do know that the ancient Greeks considered naked bodies to be particularly aesthetic. It just looked very nice to the ancient eyes. But male nudity was also something of great symbolic value to them, as it could be both a symbol of power and of defeat. Those two things do seem very relevant to the Olympic Games right? We should not underestimate the practical side of it either. Competing naked does make it harder to cheat. Today we occasionally see contestants holding the opponent’s clothes. This would be impossible in ancient Greece.

Forbidden for women

All this male nudity meant that women was not allowed to compete or even to watch the ancient Olympic Games. As a matter of fact, it was a very real possibility that a woman caught inside the arena would be facing a death penalty. But there are some reports of women competing in the horse events, and it does seem like those were naked too.

The Olympic peace

One of the main ideas about the Olympic Games is to bring the nations closer together through sports. So was the idea in Greece as well. Ancient Greece was not a single and undivided country under one ruler. It was a geographical area that consisted of many independent city states that shared a common language and a common culture. Needless to say, these city states were often at war with each other. But when it was time for the Olympic Games, it was strictly forbidden for them to fight each other. They had to make a temporary truce as the games were played. Rivalling city states did have some extra rivalry during the games, of course. So the winner of any events was usually given a very solid payment from their home states, usually enough for them to go into retirement after the games. As we can see, having well payed athletes is by no means a modern invention.

When All Olympic Athletes Were Nude
Author: Lenny
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