Sophie (age 7) and Ellie (age 5) tell the story of the Ancient Olympic Games.
With the modern Olympic games starting this week. Sophie and Ellie decide to tell the story of how 3000 years ago the Greeks invented the first Olympic Games. Next week they will tell the story of the modern Olympic games
3000 years ago Greece was not one country. The Greeks lived in different cities which all ruled themselves. However, they all worshipped the same Gods, spoke the same language and competed together in the Olympic Games. The first Olympic games were held in Olympia which was under the mountain where the Greeks believed that the Gods lived.
At the beginning of the Olympic games a flame was lit to honour the Gods. The flame stayed lit for the whole time the Olympics were on.
The first Olympic event was called the Stadion. We get our word Stadium from it. The Stadion was a race like our modern 200 metre race.
In one early race a runner called Orsippus was running. In the middle of the race his loincloth fell off. Now he was naked. However, he carried on running anyway. He actually won the race. He even collected his crown totally naked. People watching decided that he had gone faster because he was naked. After than other athletes ran naked too.
Most of the competitors were men. However, there were some women. Sophie and Ellie tell the story of Cynesca. She was a Spartan princess. She loved horses and chariots. She entered her horses and chariots several times into the Olympics and won. Later other women entered too and they said she had been their inspiration.
When the Romans invaded Greece, everything changed. The cities were no longer in charge of themselves. Now they answered to Rome. However the Romans did like many Greek things. For example, they shared the same Gods, just with different names. The Romans especially liked the Olympic Games.
One Roman Emperor called Nero even competed in the Olympic Games. He was a bad man. He tried to cheat by entering the chariot race with ten horses, whereas everyone else only had four horses. However, he was so fat that his chariot overturned at the first corner. Nero told everyone that he was the winner anyway because he said he would have won!
After Nero returned to Rome he was killed and the Greeks then had his name removed from the list of Olympic Champions.
The Olympic Games continued under the Romans until around the time of the Barbarian invasions. The Barbarians were not interested in the Olympic games and they stopped being held.
There were no Olympics for 1500 years, until the invention of the modern Olympics. We will talk about them next week.
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