WHY WE HAVE OLYMPIC GAMES

Pausanias, was a historian who lived during the 3rd century BC. He travelled around and collected people´s stories and explanations for their cult practices, their ancestors´origins and the deeds of their heroes, and he made notes that have been preserved to our time.
He wrote that the first Olympic Games, the Heraias, were invented by the 16 heads of the villages of Elis on the Peloponnesis around “Olympia” a long time ago in the past. This was before the male games started. The male games, dedicated to Zeus, are first mentioned in writing in 776 B.C.
Each elder was the most revered woman of her village. The reason for the games, according to Pausanias, was to settle grievances between Elis and Pisa in a nonviolent way. Girls were to run a stadium length (shorter than the present one), and that would settle the differences. Girls are pictured running, on prize vases, together with Nike, goddess of Victory.

The sacred truce (Quote from"The Olympic Games in Antiquity"):
On the occasion of the four Panhellenic Games, a sacred truce was proclaimed. Messengers went from city to city announcing the date of the competitions. They
called for all wars to be halted before, during and after the Games in order to enable the athletes, as well as the spectators, to travel to and from the Games sites in total safety. A climate of peace was considered important during the period of competition."

Dr. David Gilman Romano, expert on the ancient Olympic Games in Athens in 2004:
“The shot put event of track and field was held yesterday in the ancient stadium at Olympia, in the Western Peloponnesos. Both men and women competed there during the day. Some reports that I have read have stated that it is the first time that women ever competed in this stadium, since the ancient Olympic Games were limited to men and boys. But this is not true! There was a separate festival, in honor of Hera, for unmarried girls that took place in this very stadium. Admittedly there was no event in the shot put for the girls, but nor was there the shot put event for the men or boys either! The girls only ran a footrace, in three age categories. The race is described as approximately 5/6 the distance of the mens’ and boys’ race of one length.
The Hera games were organized by a committee of 16 women representing the different cities of Elis and the girls, if victorious, could dedicate an image of themselves in the sacred grove at Olympia. They could also take part in the dedication of the cow to Hera. There are several miniature bronze images of the girls running in this race at Olympia in the new Ancient Olympic Games Museum at Olympia. We know that married women were not allowed to watch the mens’ and boys’ games, although unmarried girls could watch. Furthermore, we don’t know if the boys and men were allowed to watch the contests for unmarried girls.

Among the new events introduced at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games is Women’s Wrestling. Headlines yesterday proclaimed that for the first time in the 108 year history of the Modern Olympic Games and for the first time in 3000 years if you include the ancient Olympic Games, women are allowed to wrestle in the Olympics. This is technically true, but what the sports writers are missing is the fact that there was a tradition in ancient Greece for young women to wrestle. And the interesting point is that the young women were not always wrestling other young women – they were wrestling against men! Greek mythology includes the story of Atalanta the unmarried woman who wrestled (and according to other accounts) ran only against men. There are also the accounts of the Spartan leader Lykourgos who promoted the education of the Spartan youth, that included physical education and training and competition for boys as well as girls, and in some cases they may have competed against one another. Lykourgos lived in the eighth century B.C.! So for Patricia Miranda, the Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford who won a bronze medal for the USA in Women’s Wrestling in the under 48 kilo category, she is the latest representative of a very ancient tradition!"

You can check this out on the internet, that´s where I found the (not very widespread) information. I happened to overhear ONE commentator mentioning the Female Heraia Games at the holy temple grounds of Olympia , four years ago.
It´s strange how the history of women is so almost totally muted !

WHY WE HAVE OLYMPIC GAMES

HELUA

Gothenburg, Sweden

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Artist's Description

THE OLYMPIC GAMES
AN INVENTION FOR PEACE

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