Knowledge about the Olympic Games and its significance for ancient Greek society had never faded from the European consciousness, notwithstanding the centuries that had elapsed since the prohibition of the festival by the Christian Emperor Theodosius I in 393 AD. Shakespeare’s matter-of-fact reference to the Games illustrates the point that the Olympic idea ‘was a shared, not isolated reference’ in the arts throughout Western Europe (Segrave, 2005, p. 22); indeed, as Littlewood (2000, p. 1179) observed, the Olympics were ‘probably the one’ among the ‘incalculable influences of the Greeks in the modern world … of which the general public [were] the most aware’. Much the same applied to Olympia, the place with which the Games were associated. As the English theologian Richard Chandler (1766, p. 308) remarked, its name would ‘ever be respected as venerable for its precious era by the chronologer and historian’, for whom:

Yet despite its reputation, no one was certain as to Olympia’s exact whereabouts. Despite being indicated on maps since 1516, when the Venetian cartographer

Battista Palnese referred to it as ‘Andilalo’,2 the passage of time meant that ‘Olympia has since been forgotten in its vicinity’ (Ibid., p. 308).