ABSTRACT

The modern Olympics make claim to a much longer history, a connection with a major foundation of Western civilization, ancient Greece. The ancient Greeks honored their heroes after they died with running and wrestling competitions, often close to the burial site. A prehistoric tumulus at Olympia, a remote and secluded site close to the city of Elis and 210 miles southwest from Athens, was, according to legend, the burial place of a famous charioteer Pelops. The Games at Olympia, the original Olympics, were a religious ceremony honoring the Greek god Zeus. The religious devotion to Zeus and the Panhellenic competition cemented the Greek identity. In the spring of an Olympics year, as the warming weather coaxed a profusion of wild flowers in Olympia, heralds from Elis traveled around the Greek world announcing an Olympics truce. The response to the terrorist threat at the Olympics was an increase in security.