2012 is significant in that it is a presidential election year, a leap year, and a summer Olympic year! The modern Olympics, of course, were inspired by the ancient Greek Olympics, a subject I’ve been researching for my work in progress. So in these months leading up to the 2012 London Games, I’ll be posting weekly tidbits about the original athletic festival that started it all.
Here’s this week’s fun fact:
The prize awarded to Olympic winners was an olive crown.
Unlike modern-day athletes, who vie for medals of precious metal, victors at the ancient games received only a crown of olive branches. Granted, it was a special crown as the boughs came from Olympia’s sacred olive-tree. Plus, the Olympic organizers wined and dined the victors at celebratory banquets, and, of course, there were life-long bragging rights. But there was no monetary prize.
As the popularity of Greek athletics increased, other sporting competitions popped up. Many awarded valuable prizes, such as huge jars of olive oil. Yet despite Olympia’s lack of material prizes, none could unseat it as the most prestigious of all ancient athletic festivals.
Tune in next week for more about the ancient Olympics!