Eros and Greek Athletics

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Overview


Ancient Greek athletics offer us a clear window on many important aspects of ancient culture, some of which have distinct parallels with modern sports and their place in our society. Ancient athletics were closely connected with religion, the formation of young men and women in their gender roles, and the construction of sexuality. Eros was, from one perspective, a major god of the gymnasium where homoerotic liaisons reinforced the traditional hierarchies of Greek culture. But Eros in the athletic sphere was also a symbol of life-affirming friendship and even of political freedom in the face of tyranny. Greek athletic culture was not so much a field of dreams as a field of desire, where fervent competition for honor was balanced by cooperation for common social goals.

Eros and Greek Athletics is the first in-depth study of Greek body culture as manifest in its athletics, sexuality, and gender formation. In this comprehensive overview, Thomas F. Scanlon explores when and how athletics was linked with religion, upbringing, gender, sexuality, and social values in an evolution from Homer until the Roman period. Scanlon shows that males and females made different uses of the same contests, that pederasty and athletic nudity were fostered by an athletic revolution beginning in the late seventh century B.C., and that public athletic festivals may be seen as quasi-dramatic performances of the human tension between desire and death. Accessibly written and full of insights that will challenge long-held assumptions about ancient sport, Eros and Greek Athletics will appeal to readers interested in ancient and modern sports, religion, sexuality, and gender studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Rewarding. Readers will find much interesting information on Greek athletics and the varied sources for it. The section on games for women will be of particular use to many."--Classical Outlook

"A leading expert on ancient sport, Scanlon moves athletics from the periphery to the center of our understanding of Greek life. What used to be denied--the erotic power of athletics in Greek culture and society--is now explained. Brimming with insights, this sophisticated, balanced, and compelling examination of the integral role of athletics in Greek culture and society should be read by all classicists and sport historians. Insightful, sophisticated, and persuasive, Scanlon's work makes a major contribution to our understanding of the social and cultural significance of Greek athletics."--Donald G. Kyle, University of Texas at Arlington

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195149852
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

University of California, Riverside
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Table of Contents

Introduction - Reconstructing Ancient Sport 3
1 Greek Athletics and Religion 25
2 The Ecumenical Olympics - The Games in the Roman Era 40
3 Athletics, Initiation, and Pederasty 64
4 Racing for Hera - A Girls' Contest at Olympia 98
5 "Only We Produce Men" - Spartan Female Athletics and Eugenics 121
6 Race or Chase of "the Bears" at Brauron? 139
7 Atalanta and Athletic Myths of Gender 175
8 Eros and Greek Athletics 199
9 Drama, Desire, and Death in Athletic Performance 274
10 Conclusions - The Nexus of Athletics, Religion, Gender, and Eros 323
Abbreviations 335
Notes 337
Select Bibliography 435
Index 449
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