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Presenting a survey of sports in ancient Greece, this work describes ancient sporting events and games. It considers the role of women and amateurs in ancient athletics, and explores the impact of these games on art, literature and politics.
Despite their influence in our culture, sports inspire dramatically less philosophical consideration than such ostensibly weightier topics as religion, politics, or science. Arguing that athletic playfulness coexists with serious underpinnings, and that both demand more substantive attention, Daniel Dombrowski harnesses the insights of ancient Greek thinkers to illuminate contemporary athletics. Dombrowski contends that the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus shed important light on issues - such as the pursuit of excellence, the concept of play, and the power of accepting physical limitations while also improving one's body - that remain just as relevant in our sports-obsessed age as they were in ancient Greece. Bringing these concepts to bear on contemporary concerns, Dombrowski considers such questions as whether athletic competition can be a moral substitute for war, whether it necessarily constitutes war by other means, and whether it encourages fascist tendencies or ethical virtue. The first volume to philosophically explore twenty-first-century sport in the context of its ancient predecessor, Contemporary Athletics and Ancient Greek Ideals reveals that their relationship has great and previously untapped potential to inform our understanding of human nature.
In the world of sports, the most important component is the athlete. After all, without athletes there would be no sports. In ancient Greece, athletes were public figures, idolized and envied. This fascinating book draws on a broad range of ancient sources to explore the development of athletes in Greece from the archaic period to the Roman Empire. Whereas many previous books have focused on the origins of the Greek games themselves, or the events or locations where the games took place, this volume places a unique emphasis on the athletes themselves—and the fostering of their athleticism. Moving beyond stereotypes of larger-than-life heroes, Reyes Bertolín Cebrián examines the experiences of ordinary athletes, who practiced sports for educational, recreational, or professional purposes. According to Bertolín Cebrián, the majority of athletes in ancient times were young men and mostly single. Similar to today, most athletes practiced sport as part of their schooling. Yet during the fifth century B.C., a major shift in ancient Greek education took place, when the curriculum for training future leaders became more academic in orientation. As a result, argues Bertolín Cebrián, the practice of sport in the Hellenistic period lost its appeal to the intellectual elite, even as it remained popular with large sectors of the population. Thus, a gap emerged between the “higher” and “lower” cultures of sport. In looking at the implications of this development for athletes, whether high-performing or recreational, this erudite volume traverses such wide-ranging fields as history, literature, medicine, and sports psychology to recreate—in compelling detail—the life and lifestyle of the ancient Greek athlete.
From the identity of Greek athletes and the place of Greek games in the Roman era to forms, functions, and venues of Roman spectacles, this second volume of Sport in the Greek and Roman Worlds contains eleven articles and chapters of enduring importance to the study of ancient Greek and Roman sport, a field located at a crucial intersection of social history, archaeology, literature, and other aspects of those cultures. The studies have been updated with addenda by the original authors, and four of the articles that were originally published in German have been translated into English here for the first time. The studies, selected for breadth and importance of historical topics, include: the economics, status, gender, and training of ancient athletes; the place of Greek athletes in the Roman era; the evolution of Roman games from Etruscan customs and of the Roman arena from earlier traditions; the monetary prices of gladiators; the role of animal games in Rome; and the Roman team sport of chariot racing. A companion first volume complements this one with studies on Greek sport in its epic, heroic, and Bronze Age origins; the ancient Olympics in its relation to religion, politics, and diversity of competitors; Greek events in track and field and equestrian events. The articles in both volumes offer an excellent starting point to inspire newcomers to the study of ancient sport, and to give students and scholars an informative set of models for present knowledge and future research.
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.
Looks at the history of athletics and the Olympic games in ancient Greece through translations of extracts from key texts.

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