The Victor's Crown: A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Victor's Crown brings to vivid life the signal role of sport in the classical world. Ranging over a dozen centuries--from Archaic Greece through to the late Roman and early Byzantine empires--David Potter's lively narrative shows how sport, to the ancients, was not just a dim reflection of religion and politics but a potent social force in its own right. The passion for sport among the participants and fans of antiquity has been matched in history only by our own time.
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The Victor's Crown: A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium

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Overview

The Victor's Crown brings to vivid life the signal role of sport in the classical world. Ranging over a dozen centuries--from Archaic Greece through to the late Roman and early Byzantine empires--David Potter's lively narrative shows how sport, to the ancients, was not just a dim reflection of religion and politics but a potent social force in its own right. The passion for sport among the participants and fans of antiquity has been matched in history only by our own time.
Potter first charts the origins of competitive athletics in Greece during the eighth century BC and the emergence of the Olympics as a preeminent cultural event. He focuses especially on the experiences of spectators and athletes, especially in violent sports such as boxing and wrestling, and describes the physiology of conditioning, training techniques, and sport's role in education. Throughout, we meet the great athletes of the past and learn what made them great. The rise of the Roman Empire transformed the sporting world by popularizing new entertainments, particularly gladiatorial combat, a specialized form of chariot racing, and beast hunts. Here, too, Potter examines sport from the perspectives of both athlete and spectator, as he vividly describes competitions held in such famous arenas as the Roman Coliseum and the Circus Maximus. The Roman government promoted and organized sport as a central feature of the Empire, making it a sort of common cultural currency to the diverse inhabitants of its vast territory.
While linking ancient sport to events such as religious ceremonies and aristocratic displays, Potter emphasizes above all that it was the thrill of competition--to those who competed and those who watched--that ensured sport's central place in the Greco-Roman world.
"Vivid and authoritative. Potter skillfully reveals how the gymnasium lay at the heart of Greek life and culture, but his passion is clearly for the Olympics. When Potter moves on to Roman sport, things get livelier still. He meticulously traces the origins, careers and lifestyles of athletes, gladiators and charioteers alike, and demolished some cherished myths along the way. Most gladiatorial combats apparently ended in surrender, not death, although a crowd might well call out "ingula!" (kill!), running their thousands of thumbs under their throats in the original 'thumbs up' gesture. Fascinating and impressive."
--James McConnachie, Sunday Times
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Well written and informative, this book makes complex ideas understandable. Highly recommended."—S.A. Riess, CHOICE

"Written in lively style, packed with detail bringing the era to pungent life." —The Independent

"Vivid and authoritative....Potter skillfully reveals how the gymnasium lay at the heart of Greek life and culture, but his passion is clearly for the Olympics.... When Potter moves on to Roman sport, things get livelier still....He meticulously traces the origins, careers, and lifestyles of athletes, gladiators and charioteers alike, and demolished some cherished myths along the way. Fascinating and impressive." —James McConnachie, Sunday Times


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199912209
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/10/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 853,807
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

David Potter is Francis W. Kelsey Collegiate Professor of Greek and Roman History and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Greek and Latin in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Ancient Rome: A New History and Emperors of Rome as well as two forthcoming OUP titles, Constantine the Emperor and Theodora.

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Table of Contents

Maps viii
Preface xi
Then and Now xiii

PART 1: ASHES, LINEN AND THE ORIGINS OF SPORT
1: Introduction
2: Homer and the Bronze Age
3: Homer and Sport

PART 2: OLYMPIA
4: From Myth to History
5: Olympia in 480 BC
6: The Olympic Games of 476 BC
7: The Festival Approaches
8: Winning
The Equestrian Events
The Pentathlon and the Foot Races
Nudity
Pain and Suffering
9: Remembering Victory
The Athlete as Hero
10: The Emergence of the Panhellenic Cycle 98

PART 3: THE WORLD OF THE GYMNASIUM
11: Sport and Civic Virtue
12: Beroia
13: Getting in Shape and Turning Pro

PART 4: ROMAN GAMES
14: Greece Meets Rome
15: Kings and Games
16: Rome and Italy
17: Actors and Gladiators
18: Caesar, Antony, Augustus and the Games

PART 5: IMPERIAL GAMES
19: Watching
20: The Fan's Experience
21: Expectations
22: Crowd Noise
23: Dreaming of Sport
24: Images of Sport
25: Women's Sports
26: Participating
Life as a Gladiator
Training and Ranking
Dying
Choosing to be a Gladiator
27: Charioteers
28: Athletes
Athletic Guilds
Cheating
29: Local Games
Administration
Athletics
Epilogue: The Long End of an Era
Bibliography

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