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Ancient Olympic Games

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The origin of the Ancient Olympic Games has been lost in time, although there are many legends surrounding its origins. The first recorded celebration of the Games in Olympia was in 776 BC, although this was certainly not the first time they were held. The Games were then mostly a local affair, and only one event was contested, the stadion race.

From that moment, the Games slowly became more important throughout ancient Greece, reaching their zenith in the sixth and fifth centuries BC. The Olympics also had religious importance, honouring Zeus, of which a huge Zeus statue stood at Olympia. The number of events increased to twenty, and the celebration was spread over several days. Winners of the events were admired and were immortalised in poems and statues.

The Games gradually lost in importance when the Romans took power in Greece. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the Olympic Games were seen as a "pagan festival", and in 393, emperor Theodosius forbade the Olympics, ending a period of over thousand years in which the Olympics had been held every four years.

The information in this glossary is based on Wikipedia’s material on the Olympic Games, and has been additionally edited by Babylon. A list of Wikipedia authors on the Olympic Games can be found here. This glossary is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

 

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