Ancient Olympic Fun Fact 14

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 perks of an Olympic victor were many.

Just as Olympic fame and glory lead to endorsements and other valuable opportunities for modern-day athletes, so the winners of the ancient games benefited from their victories. Upon their return, their towns gave them a hero’s welcome, marked with feasting and celebration. Many states allowed Olympic victors to dine for life at the public expense. Some also granted free lodging or theater seats (prime ones, of course) while others raised statues in their athletes’ honor.

Winners also received the right to erect statues of themselves at the Olympic shrine. These images, generally of stone or bronze, were very expensive, but friends, family, or other supporters would often foot the bill and pay a little extra to commission a poem of praise for the plinth. And as mentioned in Fun Fact 7, a victor eventually could be honored as a god.

And you thought gold medalists got stellar treatment…

Tune in next week for more about the ancient Olympics!

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