Table of Contents

Greyscot's Greek vs Modern Olympics Lecture


Note: This lecture was given on Thursday, Spetember 19th, 1996 in the Out of Character lounge as part of the LegendMUD Lecture Series.


Buffalmacco says, 'Difference between antic and modern Olympics?'

'Attic,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot nods solemnly.

Sabella asks, as for all the series, that we be polite to the lecturer and hold down emotes and extraneous comments.

'I'm typing this whole thing out in real time, and I'm not the world's best typist as you shall soon see,' Greyscot says. 'If you need me to clarify a typo, just ask.'

Greyscot smiles happily.

Sabella smiles happily.

Sabella sits down and rests on a chair.

Greyscot clears his throat like an Ivy League professor in deference to the ancientness of the subject matter.

Greyscot says, 'Ok, I'm ready to start.'

'Well, I got the idea for this subject during the Summer Olympics,' Greyscot says.

'And as you may remember, the TV coverage was pretty lame, and one of the things they screwed up on was their history,' Greyscot says.

Buffalmacco nods solemnly.

'But I don't think this is anything new really, most people don't understand what exactly the ancient Olympics are like,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'They tend to romanticize them as the "ideal" games or the "ideal" coming together of nations, as compared to our modern games, which are completely corrupt (according to these same people).'

'So to begin, I'd like to go down a list of common fallacies about the Greek games, and then talk about what they were REALLY like,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot smiles happily.

'First, the original Olympics were truly peaceful, whereas the modern Olympics are political,' Greyscot says. 'This is pretty false,' Greyscot says.

Buffalmacco nods solemnly.

'All you have to do is look at the events in the ancient Olympics,' Greyscot says.

'Javelin, which is throwing a spear for distance and accuracy, discus, which is basically hurling a huge rock, wrestling, boxing....' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'What do these have in common?'

'They are basically training for war, which is what the original Olympics was derived from,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'If we had a REAL Olympics today, events would be something like "tank driving, pinpoint missile launching, and a huge game of nuclear badminton.'

Stuart chuckles politely.

Greyscot says, 'Also, it is true that the original Olympics included a week-long period of peace, but this was only because the Greek city states were often at each other's throats, and had to be assured they wouldn't be attacked if they came to Olympia.'

Aermid giggles. Greyscot smiles happily.

Greyscot says, 'The next fallacy is " The Greek Olympians are or were graceful competitors and competed only for love of their sport.'

Greyscot says, 'This also is known to be false.'

Greyscot says, 'If you won first prize and were from Athens, guess what you got?'

'A large house for the rest of your life, free meals, and the equivalent of $500,000,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'Also, their was a lot of "endorsements" , mostly political.'

'Many of the Greek states were democracies, but they were small, so it was like an election in your hometown,' Greyscot says.

'Basically, an aspiring politician would pay an Olympic champion to hang out with him,' Greyscot says.

'Since Olympic champions were like gods in Greece, this would immediately increase the politicians popularity.. "Hey did you see that guy hanging out with Milo the wrestler? Who is he?.." That sort of thing,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'Also, I heard a lot of hype on TV this summer about companies promoting a "win or else" attitude at the games.'

'Nike, etc.,' Greyscot says.

'And the assumption was that this was contrary to the Olympic spirit,' Greyscot says.

'However, in ancient Greece, there was no second or third prize,' Greyscot says.

'You either won or you went home,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'If you finished second, it was considered no better than finishing last.'

'And since there was such an intense rivalry between city states, if you lost, you were often looked upon as letting down your "country"' Greyscot says.

Greyscot looks about accusingly.

'And hated...' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'Third and last, there is a belief that the original Olympics were very democratic.'

Greyscot says, 'In Atlanta, people complained because only the rich and well-connected got good seats.'

Red1Guest smirks.

'In Olympia, this is how it was too,' Greyscot says. 'A common worker was lucky to get the equivalent of nosebleed seats.'

Greyscot says, 'The best seats went to the aristocracy or to royalty.'

Greyscot says, 'Also, whereas today's games have many events for women, Greece had none.'

Greyscot says, 'In fact, women weren't allowed to watch the Olympics,. The penalty was officially death .'

Chocorua giggles.

Greyscot says, 'This may have been due to the fact Greek athletes were naked.'

CLeo giggles.

Panzer covers his eyes.

Greyscot says, 'Or because there was a attitude that the Olympics were a male religious event.'

Greyscot looks up into the sky and ponders.

Greyscot says, 'Ok, now I'd like to give a short history of the ancient Olympics and compare a few events and then I'll take questions.'

Greyscot smiles happily.

CLeo smiles happily.

'The Olympics started around 800 BC and ran until 396 AD,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'Basically 1200 years.'

'Compared to (I'm sure everyone knows this) 100 years for the modern games,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'When the athletes started, it was a small religious festival with games afterwards, but it grew into the main athletic competition is Greece.'

'At first athletes wore shorts,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot chuckles politely.

Greyscot says, 'Then one year, someone's shorts fell off and he still won the race.'

Aermid snickers softly.

Greyscot says, 'So the other athletes said, "What the hay, looks like good luck" and competed naked after that.'

Stuart chuckles politely.

Buffalmacco giggles.

Greyscot looks up into the sky and ponders.

'The events were 200 yard dash, 400 yard, a race with armor, javelin, discus, long jump, long distance race, boxing wrestling, prankration,' Greyscot says.

'Not many events really,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'And there were 2 Olympics... One for men and one for boys.'

'All of these events are in the modern games except for pankration,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'Pankration was anything goes fighting.'

Buffalmacco nods solemnly.

Greyscot says, 'It often resulted in severe injury or death, The only rules were no biting and no eye gouging.'

'And there were no weight classes in boxing and wrestling,' Greyscot says.

'If you weighed 100 pounds, you could find yourself fighting someone weighing 300 pounds,' Greyscot says. 'Milo the wrestler (a famous athlete) was said to weigh over 450 pounds.'

'As far as the modern Olympics hoes, it was started in 1896 by Baron Coubertin,' Greyscot says.

'A lot of the misconceptions of what the ancient Olympics were like started with him,' Greyscot says.

'The late 1800's were a time when the Greeks were worshipped and everything associated with them was revered,' Greyscot says.

Stuart nods solemnly.

Greyscot says, 'And Coubertin advanced the idea of a return to an "ideal" athletic competition.'

Greyscot says, 'However, as time as gone one, the games have returned to be much like they were in ancient times- flawed and political.'

'Ok, I'll take questions now,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot smiles happily.

Jabbaar says, 'I have one.'

Buffalmacco raises his hand.

Sabella smiles at Greyscot.

Greyscot says, 'Ok.'

Stuart raises his hand.

Greyscot says, 'Jabbaar first.'

'What happened to the games after 390AD?' Jabbaar says.

Stuart nods his agreement with Jabbaar.

McDougan considers either raising his hand, or just being rude.

'Why did they stop having them?' Stuart says.

Sabella says to McDougan, 'Raise your hand, please.'

McDougan raises his hand.

McDougan pouts.

Greyscot says, 'Greece basically came under Roman rule about 100 BC and although the games continued, in 390 the focus of the Greek world had moved to Byzantine (Turkey) where they continued to have games LIKE the Olympics, but stop having them at Olympia.'

Greyscot smiles happily.

Panzer bounces around and raises his hand, waving it in the air.

'Now Buffalmacco,' Greyscot says.

Stuart nods solemnly.

Greyscot is spammed so if he gets your questions out of turn, please don't complain too much :P

'I just wanted to point out about the woman question..' Buffalmacco says.

Greyscot nods his agreement with Buffalmacco.

'For what i know women weren't allowed to public life at all..' Buffalmacco says.

Greyscot chuckles politely.

Greyscot says, 'Greece was be very male-dominated.'

Buffalmacco says, 'They couldn't go in theatre..or other things.'

Greyscot nods solemnly.

'It's mostly true,' Greyscot says.

Panzer frowns.

'So is natural they couldn't go to games,' Buffalmacco says.

Greyscot says, 'They could go to market to and they could go to certain temples.'

McDougan says, 'Wasn't the theatre a bloody event also?'

Greyscot nods solemnly.

'It could be,' Greyscot says.

Buffalmacco says, 'I have another question.'

Greyscot says, 'Greek culture was very enlightened in some ways, and very "ancient" in others, if that makes sense.'

'Ok,' Greyscot says.

Buffalmacco says, 'I know that Olympics had also art competitions... so that is pretty different from now.'

Greyscot looks up into the sky and ponders.

Jabbaar raises a hand on a stick.

Greyscot says, 'Well, not the athletic Olympics.. There was a religious festival at the time of the Olympics, with many goings-on.'

Buffalmacco says, 'Ya... but that was peaceful competition.'

Red1Guest puts her hand up.

'Including art,,' Greyscot says. 'For a long time, people (scholars) used to ask, why did the Greeks have athletics at a religious festival, and finally decided that it was because everyone had the day off from work.'

Greyscot shrugs helplessly.

'Jabbaar next,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot smiles happily.

Jabbaar smiles happily.

Jabbaar says, 'Ok my question my not be completely related to the topic, but here goes.'

Greyscot gulps nervously.

'Ok,' Greyscot says.

'And I admire the fact that they really stopped wars in those period... and we sure didn't stop WW1 or WW2,' Buffalmacco says.

Jabbaar says, 'Basically, what made the Olympics become international like they are today?'

Jabbaar says, ''cause many countries have games of their own.'

'They were always international,' Greyscot says. 'This was the dream of Coubertin.'

Greyscot says, 'At first, they were very aristocratic though.'

Greyscot says, 'And the aristocracy was very much a club that knew few national borders.'

Jabbaar nods solemnly.

'Your aunt the Countess might be English but married to a Polish nobleman, so there was no problem in getting everyone together,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'This was tried in Greece too.'

'Over time, the games got more democratic to the athletes both in Greece and for us, and it changed the game,' Greyscot says.

'For example, in wrestling,... in started as a honorable, gentlemanly sport, but ended much like the WWF, or TV pro-wrestling,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot smiles happily.

Jabbaar chuckles politely.

Jabbaar says, 'So they could be fixed too?'

Greyscot says, 'And back in the 1910's and 20's, you probably had to be a nobleman to have time to dedicate yourself to something as strange as the javelin or discus throw.'

Greyscot chuckles politely.

'They usually weren't fixed,' Greyscot says. 'At least there is no record of it.'

Greyscot says, 'But they did get brutal.'

McDougan STILL has his hand raised. This is a reminder.

Greyscot says, 'All those fake moves were really done in Greece.'

Greyscot nods solemnly.

Greyscot says, 'Aok, McDougan.'

Greyscot smiles happily.

Greyscot says, 'McDougan?'

Chocorua whaps McDougan across the back of the head - your ears ring in sympathy.

Buffalmacco giggles.

Jabbaar grins evilly.

Chocorua says to McDougan, 'SPEAK!'

'Don't you hate it when you lose the question for the wait?' McDougan says. 'Oh, yes, where the religious rituals open to women, and also, are there any plans to add this to the mud?'

Greyscot looks up into the sky and ponders.

'Certain parts of the religious festival were,' Greyscot says.

'See whap him and he speaks,' Chocorua says.

'Women had a role in Greek life that was pretty complex and would take another lecture by someone to explain,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot chuckles politely.

Aermid giggles at Chocorua.

Ryssa giggles at Chocorua.

Buffalmacco nods his agreement with Greyscot.

Sabella smiles at Greyscot.

Greyscot says, 'They had their own ceremonies, and they had the coolest ceremony of all really.'

'Women had their own festivals,' Sabella says.

Sabella nods her agreement with Greyscot.

McDougan says, 'What ceremony?'

'Where they all got drunk and ran around worshipping Bacchus and could legally kill any man they came across because they were wild with the spirit or worship,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'Called the Bacchanalia.'

McDougan says, 'Maenads?'

Buffalmacco nods his agreement with Greyscot.

Greyscot nods solemnly.

Jabbaar whistles appreciatively.

Greyscot says, 'Maenads were a type of religious group.'

'I thought they were mythical!' McDougan says.

McDougan blushes bright red.

Greyscot says, 'They sorta are.. Maenads were wood spirits.'

'But Maenads worshipped Bacchus (in myth),' Greyscot says.

'Maenads ripped apart Orpheus,' Greyscot says.

Greyscot says, 'Are there any more questions?'

McDougan says, 'AH!!! so there was sort of a myth- real life connection?'

'About the mud....' McDougan says.

Greyscot says to McDougan, 'Well, Bacchus was a central figure in real life religion and myth.'

'Out of curiosity- we need SOMETHING Grecian!' McDougan says.

Greyscot says, 'Ok, K'mala was going to do one and she never got around to it.'

McDougan says, 'Ah!!!! I see... .'

'Zeus's lightening bolt?' Red1Guest says.

Greyscot says, 'Personally, I might do one sometime in the future.'

Greyscot says, 'An ancient Greek area.'

Greyscot chuckles politely at Red1Guest's feeble witticism.

McDougan says, 'Oh, okay..... Because it's such an obvious hole....'

Greyscot smiles happily.

Greyscot says, 'No more questions?'

Buffalmacco stands up.

Buffalmacco shows his approval by clapping his hands together.

'Well thanks for coming,' Greyscot says. 'I hope you enjoyed it.'

Stuart thanks Greyscot heartily.

Red1Guest shows his approval by clapping his hands together.

Jabbaar stands up.

Jabbaar claps for Greyscot approvingly.

Aermid claps for Greyscot approvingly.

Stuart claps for Greyscot approvingly.

Sabella applauds Greyscot's quick thinking and good judgment.

Jabbaar whistles appreciatively. Jabbaar shows his approval by clapping his hands together.

Greyscot smiles happily.

Sandra gives a round of applause.

Chocorua launches himself across the room and tackles Greyscot to the ground!

McDougan gives a round of applause.