Monday, August 13, 2012

The awe of the ancients.

I know this post has nothing to do with design or photography, but it is a thought that popped in my mind because of the Olympics and our first Olympic medalist and just wanted to put it somewhere.

Most of us tend to be awestruck when thinking about ancient civilizations and cultures, be it for their beautiful achievements, their culture or simply because of that Indiana esque romanticism. We don't even think about their quirks or things that they did that would be unthinkable today. We may even not give enough credit to us today and instead of saying "we deserve to be better just because" we think more along the lines of "ah those ancients, what a great bunch."

They were the same exact thing as us. Way of thinking, doing business, sense of justice or lack of it. Culture and ways of thinking are things that are evolved (or devolved) over time, they don't just pop up.

How come and this post was inspired by the Olympics? Well as I've said this year we got our first Olympic medalist as the Republic of Cyprus and the whole place couldn't be prouder of course. He was greeted as a hero with a special ceremony and I really think that we should have done more for him. The ceremony was in the same way as the ancient Greeks did for their Olympic winners. They would tear down parts of the city walls for their winners to come in and they would say that they fear no one now because they had their Olympic winners with them. Now this is an era where each city was its own state with their own army.

To me that says that their Olympic athletes were actually their army and the cities competing in the games was more for showing their army to each other, a show off so that the others will think twice before messing with them. Now I'm waiting for those that will start saying "But wars would stop during the games! It was for peace!" Well yeah, after all there were no soldiers left to fight a war, they were at the games competing. If you think about it the events were javelin, boxing, disc throwing, chariot racing... events that showed how strong the participants were. There were no such things as gymnastics or diving.

"And your point is?" I just realized that the games were supposedly conducted for honoring the gods and forging alliances, while it looks as if it had a deeper agenda if you like. So in that sense one could argue that the modern Olympics really are for the games themselves, for the athletes to compete with each other and get a medal to take back home not to say to each other "my army is bigger than yours." I'm not trying to reduce the significance of those games, it's just that this thought I had made the modern games all that more special to me.

I'd love to hear from an actual historian about this. In any case, normal non-pondering program should resume shorty :P It was just a thought that popped in my mind.

2 comments:

  1. I think you've hit on one of those 'little' things that are so obvious in hindsight yet so hard to see until someone points them out!

    Now I can say - 'of course the Olympics began as a form of saber rattling!' It makes perfect sense.

    Keep thinking outside the box George!

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    1. I actually asked from a cousin of mine that works as a teacher if he could find some published literature to back this up.

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