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Religion and Death
Religious Games

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The Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games

Greek athletes were closely associated with religion and trained in order to please a god or goddess in a competition. Competitive events were generally staged in the stadion, a facility that provided both space for the competitions and an area for spectators. The standard athletic events for men were made up of track and field competitions plus boxing and wrestling. Some festivals included specialized races in which the contestants either wore armor or carried torches. Boxing and wrestling events were also traditional.

Attic Black Figure Lekythos
ca. 550 BC
Near the Dolphin Group
Narce, Italy
MS 739
Two racing runners. They are likely to be competing in either the stadion event, which was a sprint 600 feet long, or the diaulos, which was twice that length. The runners are flanked by either judges or spectators.
H. 29.2; Dia. 17.0 cm. Photo by Maria Daniels for the Perseus Project. (66k)

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