Students have read about the Olympic Games and the Greek contributions to athletics. In this exercise, students will examine the competitiveness of the city-states and their athletes in the ancient Olympic Games.
Students will use information from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Web site to learn about the politics of winning in the ancient Olympic Games. Students will browse "The Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games" topic to read about the Games' history, prizes, and political importance. Students will then answer four questions and apply this information by writing three paragraphs about whether today's athletes are under more or less stress to win than athletes of ancient times.
- Students will analyze the characteristics of the ancient Olympics and the athletes who became Olympians.
- Students will be able to use this knowledge to write three paragraphs comparing the pressures of competing in the Olympics today and during ancient times.
Student Web Activity Answers
- Prizes included bronze tripods, shields, woolen cloaks, olive oil, money and free meals. At the Pan-Hellenic Festivals, the most prestigious athletic festival, the only prizes were wreaths of leaves. The Greeks were not concerned with athletes receiving prizes, even money, for their victories since there was no distinction between amateur and professional athletes. All athletes were expected to receive some prize for winning. The question of whether to allow professional athletes to compete in the Games is a question that developed in the 19th century A.D.
- Ancient Greek athletes were honored with poems or odes, sculptures of themselves, and coins with their images.
- During the Hera festival, which was held every four years, unmarried girls competed in foot races. The winners got to take part in the sacrifice of the cows, and they won the right to dedicate images in the Sanctuary of Zeus to commemorate their victories.
- City-states fought for the control of the Games. Disputes over the control of the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympiaand thus control over the Gamesoften were fought between the city-states of Elis and Pisa. In 364 B.C., when Elis had lost control of the Games, it attacked Pisa, the town that was directing the festival, in the middle of the Games! Elis eventually won control and created the Olympic Truce, which protected athletes, visitors, spectators, and official embassies from military maneuvers during the Games. In 420 B.C. Sparta engaged in a military action and was fined for its violation of the Truce. Sparta refused to pay and was subsequently prohibited from participating in that year's Olympic Games.
- Students' papers will vary.
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