Ancient Olympics were the most important event of all festivities taking place in Olympia. They were held in Elis in a luxurious grove called Altis. Olympic festival was originally held to honor Zeus. In the V century BC they took place in the temple of Zeus, which was a true architectural masterpiece. However, in the IX century BC along with the temple celebrations, there were the competitions in stadium, to which subsequently (in the VII century BC) were added races and musical competitions. These festivals were so popular that became the basis for the Greek calendar.
Establishment of the Ancient Olympics is attributed to Ifit and refers to the year 880 BC. Chronology for the Olympics began with their recurrence in 776 BC. Since then, the Ancient Olympics were held regularly running by Eleatic community every fifth year on the first full moon after the summer solstice.
After 660 years BC, the public came to Elis from all the Greek communities, and since 620 years BC the Greek audience was mixed with people from Asia Minor, Sicilian and Italian colonies. The most brilliant period of the Ancient Olympics belongs to the period of 580-440 BC. In Roman times, they were still respected, although their political and social significance was negligible. In 394, they were discontinued by the order of Theodosius.
Lots of people lived in tents and hastily built huts all six days of festivities. Spectators were only men. Women were not allowed at the Olympic Games. Rich people and representatives of Greek Communities, invited by ambassadors of Elea, lived in luxury homes outside of the sacred grove.
However, not only thirst for entertainment and craving for extraordinary spectacle attracted numerous visitors from everywhere. The event has also been a marketplace for numerous traders from different countries, as there occurred very lively exchange of various goods. The art works were exhibited, the traders made various deals, and established connections. Orators read the works poets and philosophers.
The greatest interest for a large part of the public was the competition in stadium and on the racetrack.
To participate in public competitions in stadium it was necessary to declare your desire in advance. The application was submitted to the judges, selected from representatives of Elea exclusively for the competitions. Only the persons who could confirm their Greek origin, moral perfection (for athletes) and not less than ten-month period of preparatory training were allowed to participate in the competition.
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