Cheating and heroism.. two sides of the Olympic coin through the ages

Championship and cheating were present in the Olympic Games in the ancient era, as is the case now in the Olympics of the modern era.

Milo of Croton or Archaeans of Vigalia or Roman Emperor Nero may now be forgotten, but their names remained associated with good and evil in the ancient Olympics, as now with contemporary athletes such as Carl Louis or Ben Jonson.

In those old days, cities celebrated their heroes by giving them gifts of cash and exempting them from taxes, and they were the subjects of paintings and songs.

But not all athletes were able to resist the fascination with material pleasures and bribery cases were not few then.

The boxer, Eubulus of Thessaly, bribed three of his opponents in 388 BC and, when exposed, had to pay a hefty fine equal to the cost of six life-size statues of the great goddess, Zeus.

These statues bearing the names of boxers who had committed a shameful act were distributed along the way to the stadium to discourage other players from repeating such acts, and the bases of 17 of these statues were discovered in the ancient city of Olympia.

The opposite story is embodied in Milo, a symbol of an Olympic champion who enjoyed both fame and fortune, as he was the king of ancient wrestling.

This wrestler from the Greek colony of Croton, a city in modern-day southern Italy, showed evidence of his ability in 540 BC, when he won the youth version of the Olympic Games.

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Then, between 532 and 516 BC, Milo won the same event in the main Olympiad 5 times in a row.

The legend says that Milo was also a war hero, and even portrayed him as a mythical hero, as it indicates that he was fighting dressed in a lion’s skin to look like the indomitable hero, Hercules, and that he made all Croton’s enemies run away.
As for Arrejon, he was the tragic hero of the Olympics, as the hero from the city of Vigalia paid with his life for his third title in the sport of Pancraton, a violent mixture of boxing and wrestling, as he choked to death the moment his opponent announced his surrender because he could no longer bear the pain of a finger His foot is broken.

Arrejón won but was unable to celebrate it.

At the request of Nero, the Greeks postponed the start of one of the Olympics for two years until the year 67 AD, and only during this version of the Olympiad, and on the orders of the Roman Emperor, presented competitions in acting and singing.

Nero himself won six competitions in these games, 3 in singing and 3 in sports, including the prestigious chariot race even though he actually fell off his chariot during the race.

But Nero kept his promise to the Greeks, who had been under Roman rule since the second century BC, that they would be exempt from taxes.

Zeus, god of lightning and thunder

The horse races, which the Macedonian King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, and the Roman Emperor Tiberius, likely won, were the women’s only chance of winning any Olympic competition, not because they drove chariots but because the prize was simply given to the owner of the horse and not to the rider.

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Even women were subject to the death penalty if they were discovered trying to enter the holy place in Olympia. Only the Greek men, and after them the Romans, were allowed to participate in and watch the Olympic Games as long as they were free and unblemished.

The contestants, who participated in those ancient holy places in honor of the gods Zeus and Hera, were an example of devotion.

The Olympic Games began in 776 BC with a stadium sprint of 192 meters, and Coroibus of Elis crowned the title of this race, becoming the first Olympic champion in history.

No other races were held until 724 B.C., when a stadium-length race was held twice.

Beginning in 720 BC, other types of races were added, such as long-distance races, along with competitions including armament, pentathlon, pankration, boxing, and horse racing.

In all cases, the ancient Olympic Games did not witness the establishment of more than 18 different competitions in one version of them, and the games lasted for one day in the beginning, and then the Olympic Games were extended to become 3 days.

Long-distance racing in the modern era

Since 472 BC, the games competitions have been held over 5 days with a strict ritual content that includes many rituals. The games began with the oath of players and coaches and ended with honoring the winners.

In order to preserve the safety and security of the Olympic participants and the public, the Olympic truce “Ekiseria” was held during the period of the Games, and it was not possible to breach it, either from the side of the states or individuals.

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The winners were honored by handing an olive branch in front of the golden statue of Zeus made by the famous sculptor Phidias, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Leonadis of Rhodes is considered the most successful participant in the ancient Olympic Games, winning 12 races between 164 and 152 BC.

Although the athletes, who were meticulously selected after ten months of training and according to strict criteria, achieved great fame only in their cities at first, the Games soon became a colossal event that required professional dedication.

It seems that this matter was one of the reasons that prompted the Roman Emperor Theodosius to prevent the holding of the Olympic Games in 393 AD.

The other reason behind this decision was because the emperor saw that these games involved pagan rituals.
  Roman Emperor Theodosius

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