"Concise yet comprehensive, and wonderfully illustrated . . . the crowning glory of a lifetime’s work in the field."—James Davidson, Daily Telegraph
"Excellently documented and marvelously illustrated."—Mary Beard, Times Literary Supplement "Written with clarity and grace, Miller's work exemplifies arete, the excellence of virtue that the ancient Greeks sought to embody. For lay readers and scholars alike."—Library Journal "Miller explores a myriad of engrossing subjects that are relevant today, among them the link between sport and recreation, women and athletics, and the effect of the games on international politics. . . . The book wins a gold."—David Steinberg, Albuquerque Journal "Appraising the literature, the painted pottery and the ruins, S. Miller’s scholarly, readable, well illustrated and elegantly produced book reviews the cultural, political and social history."—Antiquity "This is a book with enough insight to make it difficult to put down. It is rare to find scholarship made as completely accessible as this."—Richard Edmonds, Birmingham Post "This fine book marks the coming-of-age of the study of ancient Greek athletics as scholarly enterprise. . . . Particularly valuable are the vivid reconstruction of the ancient Olympic program and the lucid discussion of the evidence for female athletic contests in ancient Greece. Essential. All collections; all levels."—Choice "A superior piece of work in its own right and by far the best general survey of Greek athletics that is currently available. It will appeal to all non-specialists interested in Greek sport, would be an ideal text for any college-level course on this subject, and will provide specialists with a useful reference tool. . . . [This book] will facilitate the teaching of Greek athletics to undergraduates. Instructors who teach ancient Greek athletics at the college level are fortunate to find themselves, finally, in a position to put Gardiner to the side and use a text that is engaging, informative, and up-to-date."—Journal of Sport History "The best of the new books on the ancient games . . . the locus classicus for the history of sport in Greece."—Jenifer Neils, Odyssey "The best of the new books on the ancient games is Ancient Greek Athletics.. . . This book will serve as the locus classicus forthe history of sport in ancient Greece."—Jenifer Neils, Odyssey "As the Olympic Games open in the land where it all began, it is both fitting and delightful to sit down with this beautiful, informative book. Miller . . . brings the ancient Greek athletic festivals to life by reconstructing the scene at one of the Panhellenic games and explores broader themes such as the integral role they played in society and politics."—Scientific American "Ancient Greek Athletics is terrific. A winning combination—erudite and exciting. Miller takes the crown. This authoritative and accessible handbook shows what we can—and cannot—know about Greek athletics."—Donald G. Kyle, University of Texas at Arlington "Stephen G. Miller has written the finest, most complete and most useful account of ancient Greek Athletics that I have seen. It rests on a thorough knowledge of all the literary and material evidence and adds a thoughtful and unmistakable love for his subject."—Donald Kagan, author of The Peloponnesian War "Miller’s Ancient Greek Athletics nowtakes the crown as the most complete and authoritative treatment of the subject in any language. In particular, the massive collection of illustrations and statuary is unparalleled and makes the text easy to interpret."—Frank Frost, professor of ancient history emeritus from UC Santa Barbara "An olive wreath to Miller for producing an eminently readable, generously illustrated, and comprehensive text on Greek athletics. A must-read foreveryone interested in the role of sport in the ancient world."—Jenifer Neils, author of Goddess and Polis: The Panathenaic Festival in Ancient Athens
"Everyone interested in sports will want to own this book, which is a lucid introduction to the ancient athletics and an authoritative resource for the scholar. Miller draws on new information, some of which he himself discovered while excavating at Nemea, to show us in detail how athletes trained and how the various competitions were managed. The book introduces us to a world different from our own in which athleticism was a means of honoring the gods, while reminding mortals of their limitations, where there was one winner and many losers, and where the modern categories of professional and amateur did not apply."—Mary Lefkowitz, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Wellesley College, author of Greek Gods, Human Lives
This exhaustive survey by a Berkeley archeologist covers not only the Olympic Games but the related festivals at Delphi, Isthmia, and Nemea (where Miller is in charge of excavations), and uses evidence from vase painting, statuary, and the remains of ancient stadiums to elucidate such details as halteres (special weights used by long jumpers) and the hysplex, a complicated gate intended to prevent false starts. By our standards, many of the events were brutal; an unfortunate boxer named Kreugas had his intestines ripped out in a bout at Nemea. But Miller identifies a specifically Greek ideal in the fact that the athletes, regardless of social standing, competed on equal footing and would even submit to flogging if they fouled. This is a far cry from the behavior of the Roman Emperor Nero, who breezed through Greece in A.D. 67, winning some eleven hundred events; at Olympia, he fell out of his chariot and failed to finish the race but was still awarded the victory crown.
As pointed out by Miller (classical archaeology, Berkeley; director, excavations, ancient Nemea, Greece), "Plato spends long discussions on the place of athletics in education and society, yet modern books on such topics as ancient Greek history and Athenian democracy can be completely silent about athletics." In his work, intended as a handbook for all interested readers, Miller employs his impressive knowledge of both textual and material evidence to present us with a multifaceted view of athletics in ancient Greek society, including cross references to texts from his 1979 work, Arete: Greek Sports from Ancient Sources (also forthcoming in a 2004 edition). Hundreds of illustrations, many of Greek vase paintings, as well as visual evidence from statues, architecture, and sites, allow readers to see athletics as a central aspect of Greek culture. Among the book's many highlights are the attention given to the specifics of the games held at Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia and Nemea, and other locations; the nature of the sports themselves; the training process; and the evidence for women's athletics. Written with clarity and grace, Miller's work exemplifies arete, the excellence or virtue that the ancient Greeks sought to embody. For lay readers and scholars alike.-Joan W. Garland, Detroit P.L. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.