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Ancient Greece and the OlympicsComing to an Acropolis Near You

Greece was the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games. The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896 and this summer the 2004 Olympic Games will return to their origins when Athens hosts the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad.

The ancient Olympics had a rich variety of athletic contests. Did you know the rules and playing conditions in ancient Olympia are very different from the modern games? We've put together a list of books which look at the history of the Olympics and ancient Greece.

(Will you be watching the Summer Olympic Games? What is your favorite sport to watch? Discuss this topic in our Community Forums.)


Greek Athletics and the Genesis of Sport Greek Athletics and the Genesis of Sport
David Sansone

Recommended by Kalamos Books,
Mississauga, Ontario

How is sport in contemporary society related to sport in earlier civilizations? Why is the expiture of energy involved in sport considered exhilarating, while the equivalent expiture of energy in other contexts can be dispiriting? David Sansone offers answers to these questions and advances a revolutionary thesis to account for the widespread phenomenon of sport. Drawing upon ethnological findings to demonstrate the ritual character of sport, he explores the relationship between ancient Greek sport and sacrificial ritual and traces elements common to both back to primitive origins.

This Edition: £8.40
All Editions: £3.64 - £22.39


Ancient OlympicsAncient Olympics
Nigel Spivey

Recommended by Oxford University Press Bookshop,
Oxford, UK

Nigel Spivey paints a portrait of the Greek Olympics as they really were - fierce contests between bitter rivals, in which victors won kudos and rewards, and losers faced scorn and even assault. The ancient Olympics were not an idealistic celebration of unity, but a clash of military powers in an arena not far removed from the battlefield.

All Editions: £9.00 - £20.93


The Naked Olympics
Tony Perrottet

With the summer Olympics' return to Athens, Tony Perrottet delves into the ancient world and lets the Greek Games begin again. The acclaimed author of Pagan Holiday brings attitude, erudition, and humor to the fascinating story of the original Olympic festival, tracking the event day by day to re-create the experience in all its compelling spectacle.

All Editions: £4.84 - £11.99


Ancient Greek Olympics
Richard Woff

The ancient Greeks were famous for their love of competition and athleticism. Their most important sporting festival, held at Olympia and honoring Zeus, became the inspiration for our modern Olympic games. It was open to the citizens of every Greek polis, and became so important, that all warfare had to be suspended for its duration. This book runs through the entire five-day session of the ancient games. The athletes' training and the actual sporting events--some familiar, some quite strange to the modern reader--are described in vivid detail and illustrated with both classical art from the collections of the British Museum and photographs of the modern Games.

All Editions: £3.91 - £20.83


Olympic Games in Ancient Greece
Shirley Glubok

An account of the Olympic games as they probably occurred in 400 B.C. when they were at the height of their classic glory.

All Editions: £1.00 - £11.19


Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea
Thomas Cahill

The Greeks invented everything from Western warfare to mystical prayer, from logic to statecraft. Many of their achievements, particularly in art and philosophy, are widely celebrated; other important innovations and accomplishments, however, are unknown or underappreciated. In Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, Thomas Cahill explores the legacy, good and bad, of the ancient Greeks. From the origins of Greek culture in the migrations of armed Indo-European tribes into Attica and the Peloponnesian peninsula, to the formation of the city-states, to the birth of Western literature, poetry, drama, philosophy, art, and architecture, Cahill makes the distant past relevant to the present.

All Editions: £2.24 - £25.19


The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece
Robert Morkot

The cradle of western civilization, Ancient Greece was a land of contradictions and conflict. Intensely quarrelsome and competitive, the Greek city-states consistently proved unwilling and unable to unite. Yet, in spite of or even because of this internal discord, no ancient civilization proved so dynamic or productive. The Greeks not only colonized the Mediterranean and Black Sea areas but set standards of figurative art which endured for nearly 2500 years. Charting topics as diverse as Minoan civilization, The Persian Wars, the Athenian Golden Age and the conquests of Alexander the Great, The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece traces the development of this creative and restless people and assesses their impact not only on the ancient world but also on our own attitudes and environment.

All Editions: £6.44 - £18.01

Ancient Greece and the OlympicsAncient Greece and the Olympics
Mary Pope Osborne

What was it like to live in ancient Greece? What gods and goddesses did Greeks believe in? How did the Olympics start? What was the winner's prize? Find out the answers to these questions and many more in this Magic Tree House Research Guide. Includes fun facts from Jack and Annie, fantastic photos and illustrations, and a guide to doing further research!

All Editions: £2.17 - £7.04


Ancient Olympic Games
Judith Swaddling

In this revised and enlarged edition of her guide to the ancient Games, Judith Swaddling traces their mythological and religious origins and describes the events, the sacred ceremony and the celebrations that were an essential part of the Olympic festival. A large, detailed model based on modern research and excavation reconstructs the site of ancient Olympia, where alongside religious and civic buildings there grew an elaborate sports complex with a stadium for 40,000 spectators, indoor and outdoor training facilities, hot and cold baths, a swimming pool and a race-course.

All Editions: £1.00 - £20.83

Arete: Greek Sports From Ancient Sources
Stephen Miller

From the informal games of Homer's time to the highly organized contests of the Roman world, Miller has compiled a trove of ancient sources: Plutarch on boxing, Aristotle on the pentathlon, Philostratos on the buying and selling of victories, Vitruvius on literary competitions, and Xenophon on female body building. With nearly 50 percent more texts than the highly successful second edition, this new version of Arete offers readers an absorbing lesson in the culture of Greek athletics from the greatest of teachers, the ancients themselves, and demonstrates that the concepts of virtue, skill, pride, valor, and nobility embedded in the word arete are only part of the story from antiquity.

All Editions: £4.48 - £26.59


Concise History of GreeceConcise History of Greece
Richard Clogg

This book provides a concise, illustrated introduction to the history of modern Greece, from the first stirrings of the national movement in the late eighteenth century to the present day. It is designed to provide a basic introduction for general and academic readers with little or no prior knowledge of the subject. A Concise History of Greece has been revised and now includes a new final chapter that covers Greek history and politics to the present day.

All Editions: £1.01 - £50.00


Ancient Greece
Thomas R. Martin

This compact, comprehensive, and generously illustrated history of ancient Greece takes us from the Stone Age roots of Greek civilization to the early Hellenistic period following the death of Alexander the Great. Designed for nonspecialist readers, it will be a welcome and needed resource for all who wish to learn about this important subject. Thomas Martin begins with a prehistory of late Stone Age activity that provides background for the conditions of later Greek life.

All Editions: £2.80 - £24.69


Gods, Heroes and Men of Ancient Greece
W. H. Rouse

Life among the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece was a pretty lively affair. Take the day that the great god Zeus asked his son to split open his head with an ax...or the time Apollo "kidnapped" a boadload of Cretans so he'd have someone to worship him...or the argument between Zeus and his wife, Hera, that ended when he hung her over the edge of heaven by her hands (with a big stone fastened to each foot). Here's a book that shakes the dust off mythology. You meet the gods and goddesses, the heroes and the men of Ancient Greece in fast-reading tales that are full of action and drama...humor and romance.

All Editions: £1.00 - £18.60