On The Road in Greece: Honor at the Olympic Games

 

Punishme

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Olympic Stadium at Ancient Olympia

 

 

“Honor, Loyalty to one’s country is important than money,” was what I grew up hearing in the Greek-American community of Astoria. “If you have a bad name, it will follow you even to Alaska.” Our community had their own CIA and pre-internet communication system.  In June 2016, our Guide Antony Fragopoulos of our Dolphin Hellas a 2016 Classical Greece Tour described Greek civilization at ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Antony described the Honor concept of the Olympic Games by pointing out pedestals with the faded Greek names of violators of the Olympic ideals.

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Zanes

Punishment for cheating and bribery included fines, public flogging and state wide bans from competition.1 During the 98th Olympics in 388 B.C., a boxer named Eupolus bribed his three opponents to let him win. All four were fined. The fines were used to pay for Zanes. The Greeks memorialized the names of cheaters. Their example could never be forgotten.  “Law, oaths, rules, vigilant officials, tradition, the fear of flogging, the religious setting of the games, and a personal sense of honor – all these contributed to keep Greek athletic contest clean. Most of the thousands of contests over the centuries were clean.”2

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Name of cheater on base of Zane

A Sign on the path to the Olympic stadium described the “Bases of Zanes (4th – 1st century B.C.). The Zanes (plural form of the name Zeus) were bronze statues of Zeus placed on the sixteen survived bases. They were erected with the fines imposed on athletes who had committed the offence of cheating. The inscriptions on the bases named the athlete and the nature of the infringement, for which he was penalized. The position of the Zanes along the way to the stadium was a warning to all competitors.” Children from a local school group were saying in Greek “when are we leaving?”  Universal emotions expressed by youth in a historical school excursion.

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Philippeion, ancient Olympia.

I do not know the psychology of the urban Greek centers that are multi-national with different customs regarding “holding on to a good name”. Tripoli, in the heart of Arcadia, Peloponnese, believes in the importance of a family name with honor, loyalty to one’s country and Greek Orthodox traditions. It is probably not a coincidence that the Tripoli Airport (ICAO: LGTP), a military airbase, is situated there. Tracing these ethics in ancient Olympia shows its continuation in many segments of the Greek communities in Greece and Overseas.

References:

  1. http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/olympics/tp/073008OlympicCheats.htm
  2. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ancient-history-cheating-olympics-180960003/

Links:

http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/olympics/tp/073008OlympicCheats.htm

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ancient-history-cheating-olympics-180960003/

Photos:

Photo 1- Zanes

Photo 2 – Name of cheater on base of zane

Photo 3 – Philippeion, ancient Olympia.

Photo 4 – Stadium

 

 

 

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