|776 BC (possibly earlier)||Stadion||a sprint the length of the stadion track, around 200 meters|
|724 BC||Diaulos||a two stadia sprint, around 400 meters|
|720 BC||Dolichos||an endurance race of 18-24 laps on the stadion – about 3 miles|
|708 BC||Palé||Greek wrestling|
|708 BC||Pentathlon||a fivefold event consisting of the discus toss, javelin throw, long jump, stadion sprint, and wrestling|
|688 BC||Pygmachia||Greek boxing|
|680 BC||Harmatodromia||chariot racing|
|648 BC||Pankration||a brutal combat sport with few rules|
|520 BC||Hoplitodromos||an encumbered race in which athletes had to wear pieces of hoplite armor|
Origins and HistoryThe earliest recorded instance of the ancient Olympic Games was in 776 BC, though the festival is thought to predate even that period. The games flourished in popularity throughout the following centuries until they were suppressed by Roman Emperor Theodosius in 393 AD, although they were still held for a short time afterwards. From the 1st to 4th centuries AD, Olympic festivals were intermittently held in other cities including Athens, Antioch, and Ephesus. The most probable date for the final instance of the ancient Olympic Games at Olympia (as opposed to the other cities) was around 360 AD. The latest probable instance of an Olympic festival held elsewhere was in Antioch around 520 AD.
CompetitorsFor most of the festival’s history, hopeful athletes had to be Greek-born men from any city-state. (Women competed in the Heraean Games.) In the festival’s very late life, some non-Greek men were allowed to compete, such as the Persian king Varazdat and Egyptian philosopher Horus. Competitors had to recite a ritualistic vow that they had trained for at least 10 months, had adhered to a special athletic diet, and would not cheat in the upcoming events. Athletes from various city-states had different rituals before the ancient Olympic Games, such as sacrificing or praying to certain deities, ancestors, or athletes at specific points on the journey to the festival.
Olympic TruceAn ekecheiria (truce) among all Greek city-states was put into place immediately before and during the ancient Olympic Games to ensure athletes and spectators from different regions safe travel. During this time, battles and wars were to be halted, no new conflicts were to be declared, and death penalties were to be ignored. Any city-states who violated these terms were heavily fined. For example, when Spartans allegedly assaulted an Elean fort during the Olympic truce around 432 BC, they were fined 2,000 minae, the equivalent of $16 to $18 million USD.* *60 minae converted to 1 talent in ancient Greece, and 1000 talents at that time would have equaled roughly $450 to $500 million USD in 2010. With these estimated currency conversions and with adjustments for inflation, 2,000 minae comes to about $16 to $18 million USD.
BibliographySwaddling, J. (2015). The ancient Olympic games. Austin: University of Texas Press. Sansone, D. (2009). Ancient Greek civilization. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. T., Strassler, R. B., & Crawley, R. (2008). The landmark Thucydides: A comprehensive guide to the Peloponnesian War. New York: Free Press. Adams, W. L., & Gerlach, L. R. (2002). The Olympic Games: Ancient and modern. Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Pub.