Ancient Olympic Fun Fact 28

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:

A two-day procession preceded the Olympic competition.

Just like the modern Games have their spectacular opening ceremonies, the ancient athletes also entered Olympia in style. The procession began in Elis, where the athletes would have just completed their compulsory training, and after an exhortation by the Judges, the contestants who’d made the cut proceeded to Olympia accompanied by officials and the hundred oxen designated for the festival sacrifice.

The route they used was called the Sacred Way. The procession took two days partly because it was 58 km long. The other reason it took so long was they had to perform rites, including sacrificing a pig, at points along the way. By the time the athletes hit the road, spectators would already be at or en route to Olympia, and their parade almost certainly drew a crowd.

Tune in next week for more about the ancient Olympics!

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