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The Games Begin
Thousands of years ago, sports fans stood in stadiums like our own and cheered like crazy for the athletes they adored. One fan in the second century AD wrote to a friend, “Oh, I can’t describe the scene in mere words. You really should experience firsthand the incredible pleasure of standing in that cheering crowd, admiring the athletes’ courage and good looks, their amazing physical conditioning--their great skill and irresistible strength--all their bravery and their pride, their unbeatable determination, their unstoppable passion for victory! I know that if you were there in the stadium, you wouldn’t be able to stop applauding.”
He was talking about one of the ancient Olympic Games. By then, the Games were an established institution and had been occurring every four years without fail for almost a thousand years. For nearly that long, they had also been the rage of the Mediterranean world.
In addition to the Greeks, many ancient civilizations, including those in Egypt, Crete, and Celtic Ireland, incorporated athletic festivals or contests into their annual cycle of celebrations. But none kept going for as long as the Olympics have. Yet when the Olympics began, who could have imagined they would have such staying power? Their main purpose was to help hold widespread Greek communities together by a shared event.
In the eighth century BC, various Greek peoples had settled along the shores of the Mediterranean and adjacent seas. There were many differences between them, which eventually gave rise to rival city-states, like Athens and Sparta. But they had their “Greekness,” or Hellenic nature, in common. So the idea was to have a Panhellenic, or all-Greek, celebration that would affirm their common bond.
Only much later did the Games include representatives from other nationalities, and sportsmen from colonies as far away as Africa and Spain.
Over time, the Games also took on a life of their own. They remained communal but acquired the status of tradition. The determination to keep them going would outlast war, famine, turmoil, and even the conquest of Greece itself. They became a symbol of continuity amid the changing fate of nations and revolutions in world affairs.
Today, the Olympic Games are huge multicultural, multimedia events. They are global extravaganzas in which almost every nation takes part. Heroes of the Games enjoy enormous popularity and stature, and the principles the Olympics represent--athletic striving, fair play, goodwill among men--continue to excite the enthusiasm of sports fans throughout the world.
Yet the ancient Olympics could hardly have had a more humble start. As far as anyone knows, the first recorded Olympic event took place in 776 BC, when a 200-yard footrace was held in a meadow beside the Alpheus River in Olympia. The race was won by a man named Coroebus, from the nearby town of Elis, where he worked as a cook. Ideas for a local festival began to take hold, but for a dozen or so years the 200-yard footrace was the only Olympic contest. Then other races were added, drawing larger crowds. New events, too, joined the program, including the discus throw, the chariot race, the long jump, the javelin throw, wrestling, and boxing.
The footraces were of various lengths. The shortest, known as the stade, was a dash the length of the running track or stadium (hence its name), which at Olympia measured 200 yards. There was also a double stade race (up and down the track) and a 2 1/4-mile run twenty times around. As depicted in ancient art, the contestants were anything but lean or spare-looking, like some modern runners, but had substantial upper-body strength and bulging calves and thighs. “They evidently combined,” as one historian observes, “a driving knee action with a punching, piston-like movement of the arms for extra momentum.” Many sprinters, in fact, run like that today.
The footraces were run over a surface of layered sand and along a track with as many as twenty lanes. At the starting line, there was a stone slab into which grooves for toeholds were cut. As the runners took their places--in an order determined by lot--they warmed up for a few minutes, then (instead of going into a crouch like modern sprinters) stood up with their arms stretched forward, one foot slightly advanced. The blast of a herald’s trumpet sent them off. False starts were checked severely and offenders were struck by an official with his whip. Eventually (in the fourth century BC), the Greeks devised a starting mechanism known as the hysplex, which featured a series of starting gates released by strings.
The last of the race events (introduced in 520 BC) was unlike any other. It was more like a military field exercise than a race. Greek foot soldiers known as hoplites lined up and, at a signal, began to toil as best they could two times up and down the track in full body armor weighing about fifty pounds. According to the Greek historian Plutarch, the event was meant to remind the public that the real point of athletic excellence was the development of martial strength and skill.
In those days, there was no record-keeping or timing of events, so there were no records to be broken or means to compare achievements from year to year. Each Olympics was a world of competition unto itself.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted March 13, 2014
Titles: Seer, The Courier <br> Name: Luna <br> Gender: female <br> Regeneration: 9th <br> Apparent Age: mid-twenties <br> Actual Age: approximately 650. She tracks it by the decade. <br> Appearence: Seer is 5' and 6" tall, as well as very thin. She has single, slightly glowing, red eye. Her other is covered by a crooked bandana. Running beneath said bandana is a scar that intersects with her eye. She is fair-skinned, pale, whatever you wish to call it. Her hair is a curtain of siver-white that hangs down to her waist and looks very... spiky. Seer wears a simple, black unis<_> ex business suit, along with white gloves. Her left arm is mechanical from the shoulder down, as her normal one was cut off. She also has a nasty scar running from her right thigh to the left side of her stomach, and another from her right shoulder down her back to her hip. <br> The pros and cons of her mechanical bits: Seer's allows her to see farther more clearly, as well as make out smaller details at a closer range. Her arm is, as one might imagine, sturdier and stronger than a biological one. The issue is that it makes her incredibly susceptible to extreme cold or heat and she has to eat much, much more than is normal to keep her body running. <br> Items and/or weapons: Seer nearly always has her katana at her hip. It has a long, red blade that hums and sparks when drawn. It isn't made of any super-alloys to give it's durability and cutting power, the sword resonates at a frequency that weakens the molecular bonds of whatever it cuts. On the hilt in gold, circular Gallifreyan writing is "Muramasa." The same goes for it's black scabbard, which IS made of a super-alloy. In addition to her katana, Seer has a pen armed with hardlight projectors that allow her to turn light into a solid. Unfortunately, this is limited by a rather small battery.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 8, 2014
Name: Emalee ~•~ Gender: Female ~•~ Age: 17 ~•~ Appearance: Pumpkin colored hair and seafoam eyes. ~•~ Race: Human ~•~ Famous for: Being the Follower Girl <p>
Name: The Doctor ~•~ Gender: Female ((at least, at the moment)) ~•~ Age: 1,535 ~•~ Appearance: Brown hair with caramel streaks, green eyes, rainbow tye-dye feather in her hair. ~•~ Race: Timelord, 23rd generation ~•~ Famous for: Being the first female Doctor
Posted March 8, 2014
Name: The master <p>
Nicknames: none, as far as i can see. <p>
Age- in his 900s <p>
Race- Time lord<p>
Looks- dirty blonde hair with blue eyes. Wears a red Tshirt with a black jacket. <p>
Personality- quite insane. <p>
Likes- games of cat and mounse with the doctor. <p>
Dislikes- the noise, losing.
Posted March 8, 2014
NAME: Th Wanderer NICKNAMES: The Mindset, Rachel Landers. GENDER: Female RACE: Time Lady AGE: 524 years old PERSONALITY: Stubborn, smart, slightly childish but not nearly as much as the Doctor. BACKROUND: Long, long story. At this time, she doesn't know much about it but eventually will over time. Other: Ask. <p> Name: Cassandra (Casey) Rivers...Age: 22...Race: Human...Gender: Female...Personality: Stubborn, slightly crazy, energetic, brave, impatient. Has a VERY bad tendency of showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time and whenever the doctor is drawing aliens to earth. She's american but would rather be british so she moved there but the accent remained...Other: Ask.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 8, 2014
Posted August 16, 2012
It's the Summer of 2012, which means it is time for the Summer Olympics
in London, England. This athletic tradition has deeper roots than some
kids can imagine. A Passion for Victory seeks to tell the story of that
tradition, starting with the Ancient Greeks through the early modern
era. It opens with a chronology that highlights major events. The first
story is about a man who survived the icy waters after the Titanic sank
and went on to be an Olympic champion. The timing of that story is also
notable because 2012 marks the 100 year-anniversary of the Titanic
sinking. The first two chapters go into a lot of detail about the
original Olympic games that took place in Ancient Greece. It compares
those games to the modern ones. The next several chapters focus on the
revival of the modern Olympic games in the 1800s, particularly the first
100 years. The epilogue focuses on the Olympics around WWII and includes
several photographs. An appendix features lists of medal records won
from 1896 to 1948. This book reads very much like a textbook and isn't
as engaging as others I have read. The language used is more appropriate
for older readers, which is why I have it classified as young adult and
not so much as a chapter book. Also, discussions of Hitler and political
topics are more appropriate for older students. These aspects of the
Olympics are not as often discussed when talking about the topic. I did
also notice much more discussion of women in the politics, as well. It
is full of lots of information and resources for further study. I
received a complimentary eARC in exchange for my honest review. This
also appears on Andi's Young Adult Books.