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"Stepping Into History"

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By Dimitri Chronopoulos
Arroyo Valley High School
Social Studies Teacher
Special to the BVN

They are home. The Olympic Games have returned to Greece, like so many of its sons and daughters have over the last 108 years.

The Greek Diaspora across the globe has not only been a human movement, but also the movement and evolution of the Olympic Games.

I also returned to Greece this summer, finding myself in a country that has taken a large step into the future, all the while keeping one foot planted firmly in the past.

This past I speak of can be seen first hand in Olympia, the birth place of the Games. Surrounded by olive orchards and nestled in a peaceful valley where the Alpheios and Kladeos rivers meet, the ruins of Olympia stand as living history.

If you listen closely you can hear the voices and footsteps of pilgrims and athletes.

Feasts in honor of Olympian Zeus would mark the opening of the Olympiads. The first day was reserved for athletic contests. On the second day a herald proclaimed the names of the participants in the chariot races, horse races and pentathlon, all of which were scheduled for the following day.

On the fourth day young men competed at running unencumbered, running in full armor, the high jump, boxing, wrestling and pankration (a brutal combination of the two). The games culminated on the fifth day with sacrifices and, in the evening, a banquet for the victors, who wore crowns of olive leaves.

The history of the Olympic Games does not only speak to Greeks; it speaks to all of humanity, listen, can you hear it?

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