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Antiquity and Modernity:

A Celebration of European History and Heritage in the Olympic Year 2004

Essays from the 1st International Conference on European History

Edited by: Nicholas C.J. Pappas


The popular position on Olympic origins is that the games revival was born full-blown like Athena from the mind of the founder of the modern international Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin. As one recent publication, The Complete Book of the Olympics, stated: Inspired by the original, uncorrupted Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France conceived the modern Olympics. He proposed the idea publicly in 1892 and then spent the next three and one half years drumming up support. Interest was strongest in Greece, so it was decided to hold the first Olympics in Athens.1

Athletics in the Middle Ages

One fallacy often presented by many Olympic historians is that all forms of classical athletics disappeared with the demise of the Olympics in 393 A.D. It is true that the preeminent position of Greek track and field events, as well as combative sports, had declined. However this decline had been an ongoing process for many years, with the rise of Roman gladiatorial contests and chariot racing in the ancient world. In spite of the rise in popularity of equestrian sports (chariot racing, tzikanion or polo, Turkish cirit, and jousting) in the Byzantine era, some classical athletics continued to be practiced.2 For example, Byzantine physicians, like their ancient counterparts, continued to recommend a program of exercise to maintain ones health. In the standard Byzantine medical treatise, written by Paul of Aegina in the seventh century, the physician recommends, running, shadowboxing (skiomachia), sparring (akrocheismos), the exercise with the leather bag, and that with the small ball. According to Paul, exercise ought to be carried on until the body becomes distended, and the skin of a florid hue; and until then, the motions ought to be strong, equable and spirited, upon which you may see warm sweat, mixed with vapor, break out. 3 Aside from the tradition of personal exercise, many classical athletic events continued to be practiced in Byzantium. Even after the end of the Olympics in Elis, a festival called the Olympics celebrated in Antioch in Syria continued to be held until 521 A.D. The games, inaugurated by the Senator Sosibios under Emperor Augustus in the first century A.D., included track and field, wrestling, boxing, pankration4, as well

David Wallechinsky, The Complete Book of the Olympics, (New York, 1984), xvi. This otherwise fine retrospective statistical almanac of the modern Olympics fails to mention any of the modern precursors of the international Olympics. 2 There is some question as to when the Games ended. See Maxwell L. and Reed Howell, The Role of Theodosius the Great and Theodosius II in the closure of the Ancient Games Fact and Fiction (abstract), Proceedings and Newsletter of the North American Society for the History of Sport 8 (1980): 60. 3 Paul of Aegina, The Seven Books of Paulus Aegineta, Francis Adams, tr., 1 (London, 18440, 22-24. 4 The pankration was a combative sport that combined wrestling and boxing in which all holds and blows, including kicks, were allowed with the exception of eye gouging. On the pankration, see Harvey Abrams, A brief history of the Pankration, Canadian Journal of the History of Sport and Physical Education 10/1 (1979): 36-51; E. Norman Gardiner, Greek Athletic Sports and Festivals (London, 1910), 435-450; Gardiner. The Pankration and Wrestling, Journal of Hellenic Studies vol. 26 (1906), 4-22; Roberto Patrucco, Lo sport nella Grecia antica (Florence, 1972), 309-331; and Lazaros Savvides, Pangration: He polemike techne ton atrchaion hellenon-to olympiakon agonisma, ed.2 (Athens:Elefthere Skepsis, 2001).


as equestrian and musical events.1 They were held every four years in the Antiocheian suburb of Daphne and seemed to have come to an end not by imperial edict, but rather as a result of natural disaster and foreign invasion Thus, in that most Christian of cities of the east, the Olympic tradition continued for over 125 years after the end of the Olympic games in Elis. That time span is longer than the venue of contemporary international Olympic Games, which have been held for 108 years. There is no substantial evidence that these games were ended by imperial edict. It is more likely that the great fire of 525, earthquakes of 526 and 528, and the Sasanid Persian sack of the city in 540, and the bubonic plague of 542, ended these Olympics.2 Even after the end of the Antiocheian Olympics, annual foot-races were held at the Imperial Hippodrome in Constantinople on January 3 until at least the 12th Century. This event was known as the voton pezodromion or the votive foot-race in honor of the Emperor. Contestants for the race were representatives of the two main circus factions (the blues and greens) and were selected after trials. The race entailed four turns around the hippodrome-about seven diauloi or 2,800 meters. The victor of the race, called a symperestes, was rewarded with a wreath or crown.3 Besides the formal voton pezodromion literary evidence shows that other track and field events were practiced by the Byzantines on an informal basis, including the broad jump, running, the discus, wrestling and pankration.4 Later literary evidence, together with the study of the folk practices of the modern Greeks and other Balkan peoples, indicate that primitive forms of track and field events were practiced by the Greek peasantry up to modern times. These events, held informally, or formally during panygeria or religious festivals included running; the broad jump, the triple jump, the stone throw and wrestling. These events were also practiced by the klephtes and armatoloi the bandits and rural armed forces of Greece under Turkish Rule, according to folksong.5 The great ideological and organizational pioneer of Greek independence, Rhigas Pheraios, in his translation of the LOlimpiadi of Metastassio claimed that these folk events were continuations of ancient Olympic sports, saying in the 18th century that Running, wrestling, discus, broad jumping, and pankration are still played today in Thessaly and in all of Greece.6
S. Giatsis, Olympia in Antioch The Last Athletic Games of Antiquity, in Proceedings of the International Association for the History of Physical Education (Glascow, 1985), 281-285; Phaidon Koukoules, Byzantinon Bios kai Politismos, vol. 3 (Athens, 1949), 86-89; and Christine Kontoleon, Antioch: The Lost Ancient City (Princeton University Press, 2000), 148, 155 and 163-167. 2 Glanville Downey, Antioch in the Age of Theodosius the Great (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962), 149-150; and Kontoleon, xiii 3 Constantine Porphyrogenitos, De Cerimoniis aulae Byzanitinae (Ekthesis tes Basileiou Taxeos), in J. P. Migne, ed. Patrologiae Graecae, vol. 112 (Paris, 1864), 664-660; and idem Le Livre de Ceremonies, Albert Vogt, ed. And tr., pt. 1 (Paris, 1939), 159-163, Commentary (Paris, 1940), 168-172. 4 On sports and athletics among the Byzantines, see: Anthony Bryer, Byzantine Games, History Today 17 (1967) 487-489; S. Giatses, Morphes athlesis ste protobyzantine periodo, Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Daily Life in Byzantium (Thessalonike, 1988), 451-462; Koukoules, 81-139; Barbara Schrodt, Sport and Physical Education in the Byzantine Empire (abstract), Proceedings and Newsletter of the North American Society for the History of Sport 8 (1980): 61; Schodt, Sports of the Byzantine Empire, Journal of Sports History 8 (1981): 40-59. 5 Koukoules, 108-109, 111, 113-114, 130-131; Schodt, Sports of the Byzantine Empire, 54; and K. I. Tsiantas, Ta agonismata ton klepharmatolon kai he Ethnergesia (Ioannina, 1971), 23. 6 Ta Olympia, drama tou abba Metastasiou tou Italou metaphrasthen eis ten emeteran glossan (Offen, 1815), prologue. Pheraios translated Metastassio early in his career and believed that the Modern Greek throwing of the stone and triple jump were the equivalents of the ancient discus throw and broad jump. He was both a scholar and a revolutionary. Enthralled


Due to the prevalence of cavalry warfare, equestrian sports dominated the medieval west as well. Indeed, special competitions and sports developed around the tactics of knights and the customs of chivalry. The joust and the tournament became the great events of the feudal aristocracy.1 These pastimes and spectator sport were exported east during the Crusades and were adopted by Byzantines and Muslims.2 Equestrian sports in the Islamic world included polo and cirit. The most popular non-equestrian sport in the Muslim world, especially among Turks and Persians, was wrestling. Nevertheless, as in the east, non-equestrian athletics continued to be practiced in western Christendom. For example, wrestling, running, jumping stone-throwing and other feats were considered part of preliminary training for knighthood.3 These types of events, as well as others, like tug-of-war, pole vaulting, and caber throwing were practiced by country and townsfolk at fairs and festivals.4 Remnants of these games are found among the most of the European peoples, most notably among the Scottish and Irish, be they revivals or continuation of folk athletics.5 Some medieval fairs involving sports have been continued into modern times, such as the palii and giocchi of the towns of central Italy.6 It might be said that the paucity of sources and references to athletic competitions in Medieval Europe-East and West-when compared to the classical period, may be due, not to the fact that athletics ended with the coming of Christianity and the migration of peoples, but rather that equestrian sports prevailed among the classes who left literature or who patronized literature. Scholars often make conclusions, from the writings of a few church fathers, that care of the body, exercise and athletics were despised in that era. It ought to be said that these few articulate clerics did not represent all strata of medieval society or their particular estate, for that matter. Some churchmen in the east, for example, encouraged exercise and physical education as part of the curriculum for children. This was the case of Clement of Alexandria,

by the French Revolution, he envisioned the overthrow of the Ottoman Empire and its replacement by multiethnic and multi-confessional state in the Balkans and Anatolia that would have a political system similar to that of the French republic. He organized a secret society in Austria for this purpose, but his organization was betrayed to Austrian authorities and its members, including Rhigas, were extradited to Ottoman territory and executed in Belgrade in 1797. 1 See Richard Barber, The Knight and Chivalry (New York, 1970); Stephen H. Hardy, The Medieval Tournament: A Functional Sport of the Upper Class, Journal of Sports History 1 (1974): 91-106. 2 Bryer, 459; Koukoules, 144-147; and Schodt, Sports of the Byzantine Empire, 53. 3 Nicholas J. Moolenijzer, Our Legacy from the Middle Ages, Quest (11): 36-37; and Hans Strohmeyer, Physical Education of the Princes in the Late middle Ages as Depicted by Two Works of the Styrian Abbot, Engelbert of Admant (1250-1331 A.D.), Canadian Journal of the History of Sport and Physical Education 8/1 (1977): 38-49; 4 Moolenijzer, 33-34,40; Jean Verdon, Fetes et divertissements en Occident durant le haut moyen age,. Journal of Medieval History 5 (1979): 303-313; and Earl F. Ziegler, The Early Middle Ages: Life, Education and Patterns of Sport and Physical Education, Canadian Journal of the History of Sport and Physical Education, 8/2 (1977): 35- 50. 5 D. Anthony, Rural Roots of the Modern Olympics and a German Foundation for British Sport, Sports International 6 (1982): 36-37; J. Goulstone, Northern Origins of the Olympic Games, Olympic Review 152-153 (1980): 336-339. On the tradition of the Irish games, held at fairs (Aenoch) see: Peggy Stanaland, Ancient Irish Fairs and the Preservation of Irish Sport (abstract), Proceedings and Newsletter of the North American Society for the History of Sport 11 (1983): 39-40. On the Highland Games of Scotland, see David Webster, Scottish Highland Games (Edinburgh, 1973). 6 On these events, see William Heywood, Palio and Ponte: An Account of the Sports of Central Italy from the Age of Dante to the XX Century (New York: reprint, 1969).


Isidoros of Pilusium and Basil of Caesarea.1 Even Christian writers not involved in sports and athletics used sports metaphors in describing the monastic and spiritual life. The term ascetic, for example, comes from the Greek askesis meaning exercise. Monks were often called athletes of Christ and their ascetic life and practices were described in athletic terms.2 But since education was a province of the church, particularly in the west, physical education and athletics were deemphasized in pedagogy, except in military training, until the coming of Renaissance humanism.3

The Revival of Athletics

During the Italian Renaissance, a number of humanist scholars and educators reintroduced gymnastics and sports as part of the school curriculum. In theory and practice, such men as Vittorino Da Feltre, Pietro Paolo Vergerio, Francisco Barbaro, and Aeneas de Piccolomini began to include riding, running, jumping, fencing, swimming, archery, and other games as part of childrens education.4 These educators were emulated by scholars from elsewhere in Europe in early modern times. In the nineteenth century, physical education grew with the rise of the modern state and public school systems. Early in the century regular programs of physical education were integrated into the schools of Sweden, Denmark, and the German states.5 Later gymnastics and physical education programs were adopted in other European and American countries, both officially in the school curriculum and unofficially in gymnastic movements such as the Turner Societies among Germans and the Sokol Clubs among Czechs and other Slavs.6 Parallel to the development of physical education was the growth of competitive and spectator sport, both individual and team events, from out of the realm of folk culture. The process had begun in the British Isles, where folk athletics were probably the most institutionalized. The Scottish Highland Games, for example, flourished from the 16th century until they were banned after the Jacobite uprising of 1745.7 Indeed the first modern athletic competitions called Olympics were held in England in the 17th Century. These games were part of the struggle between puritans and high churchmen, both Anglican and Catholic, over the banning of recreation on
Koukoules, 84. Koukoules, 83. 3 Military manuals of the Middle Ages, such as the late Roman Vegetius (late 4th C.) and the Byzantine treatises of Maurice (late 6th C.), Leo the Wise (mid-10th C.) and Cecaumenus (11th C.) included sections on the physical training of infantry and cavalry. 4 Frieda Lee Continuity? The Palaestra, La Giocosa, and the Philanthropinum, Canadian Journal of the History of Sport and Physical Education, 7/2 (1976): 58-69; and William H. Woodward, Vittorino da Feltre and other Humanist Educators (Cambridge University Press, 1921). 5 On the growth of gymnastics in these countries, see: J. G. Dixon, Prussia, Politics and Physical Education, in Landmarks in the History of Physical Education, J. Dixon et al, eds. (London, 1957), 107-148; and Fred E. Leonard, Pioneers in Modern Physical Training (New York, 1915), 19-41, 59-62. 6 John Dambach, Physical Education in Germany (Columbia University, Teachers College, Columbia University Contributions to Education, 731), 1-36; Jarka Jelinek and Jaroslav Zmrhal, Sokol: Educational and Physical Association (Chicago, 1944); and Lewis N. Reiss, Physical Education in Czechoslovakia, Journal of Health and Physical Education 19/6 (1932): 6-13. Michael Krger, in Die Antike Gymnastik und Athletik als Vorbild fr Turnen und Sport in Deutschland im 19. Jahrehundert, Stadion 21-22 (1995-96): 86-99 argues that the Olympics and ancient Greek athletics gave an ideological underpinning to the Turner movement and German athletics in general. 7 Iain Colquhoun and Hugh Machell, Highland Gatherings (London, 1927), 61-66.
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the Sabbath. The games were sponsored by Robert Dover, a wealthy Catholic, who held them annually on his Cotswold estate until his death in 1641. The Cotswold Olympicks were similar to the highland games and other folk athletic competitions. They included contests with swords, pikes, and quarterstaffs, wrestling, broad-jumping and the hammer throw. This festival lasted only a few years and was briefly revived under King Charles II.1 The 19th century saw the organization of sport clubs and spectator sports in England and then on the Continent and America. Some scholars see the industrial revolution and the concentration of country population in urban areas as a factor in the spread of mass spectator sports and some athletics.2 Romanticism and the rise of nationalism was another factor in the growth of sports. The search for historical and folk roots by European intellectuals led to revivals and creation of sport traditions. The Scottish Highland Games were revived in such a way in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In France during the years of the French Revolution, the Directorate organized games called the Jeux Olympiques held at the field of Mars in Paris to begin a new tradition of athletics for a New France.3 Similar games called Olympics were organized in Dessau in Germany in the 18th century and in Montreal, Canada in 1844.4 During the period of growth of spectator sports and physical education in the 19th century, the Olympic events of ancient times, combative, as well as track and field, were revived in new form. After centuries of being relegated to mostly peasant and folk competitions, these sports became part of the higher culture of 19th century Europe. Boxing had become a spectator and wager sport (prizefighting) in 18th century England and developed into professional and amateur branches in the 19th century, while wrestling remained a country or wager sport until the late 19th century. Track and field events were adopted by colleges and universities, as well as athletic clubs, in the 19th century. They, along with ball games (rugby, soccer, football, cricket, baseball), became the chief sports of the educated upper classes of England and America. Unlike the ball games, track and field athletics did not develop into professional sports. Nonetheless they were established scholastic sports by the mid-nineteenth century. The first interscholastic track and field competition was organized in 1864 between Oxford and Cambridge in England, while the first track meet in the United States was held between Ivy League Schools in 1875.5 Formal track and field competition was a province of the upper classes in the 19th century. The concept of amateurism in sport of that age had a definite class connotation. In a time before athletic scholarships and state/private sponsorship of amateur sports, participation in amateur athletics was open only to those who could afford the leisure time to train for and attend competitions in their events.6

On the Cotswold Games, see: Lodewyk Bendikson, Forgotten Olympics in King James Reign, Games and Gossip 10/5 (1932): 7-12; and Dennis Brailsford,, Sport and Society: Elizabeth to Anne (London, 1969), 103-104 2 William J. Baker, Sports in the Western World (Totowa, N.J., 1982), 98, 103; and Hugh Cunningham, Leisure in the Industrial World, ca. 1780-ca. 1880 (New York, 1980) 3 Xenophon Mesinessi, History of the Olympic Games (New York, 1973), 52. 4 Otto Szymiczek, The Revival of the Games, in The Olympic Games, Nicolaos Yialouris, ed. (Athens, 1976), 289; and G. Redmond, Olympic City of 1844 and 1976: Reflections Upon Montreal in the History of Canadian Sport, Canadian Association of Health, Physical Education and Recreation 42/4 (1976): 43-51. 5 Roberto Quercetani, A World History of Track and Field, 1864-1964 (Oxford University Press, 1964), 1-3. 6 Richard Espey, The Politics of the Olympic Games (University of California Press, 1979), 136.


Harbinger Olympics
Prior to the formal organization of scholastic amateur track and field competition in England and America, attempts had been made to revive the Olympics on a local, regional and national level decades before the advent of the international Olympics in 1896. An important harbinger of the Olympics was the Scandinavian Olympic Games organized by Professor Gustav Schartau in 1834 and 1836. These games, held in Ramalosa, Sweden, consisted of running events, high jump, pole-vault, rope climbing, wrestling and gymnastics. These Scandinavian Olympics were not held beyond their second meet. 1 A more long lasting Olympic celebration was organized in England in 1849 by Dr. W.P. Brooks. These Olympics, held outside the town of Shropshire, took the form of an English country fair with some concession to ancient Olympic traditions. Events at the games included running, jumping, equestrian events and cricket. The festival included processions, award ceremonies and the planting of trees in honor of dignitaries, including the Greek Ambassador to London and the King of Greece.2 Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern international Olympics, recognized these local games as a continuation of the ancient and a prototype of the modern Olympics. He attended these annual games in 1890 and knew of exchanges between the English games and the Greek government. However, in his writings, Coubertin ignored the efforts by Greeks to organize national Olympic Games between 1859 and 1889. One biographer of Coubertin claims that Coubertin knew full well of the pre-1896 Olympics in Greece, but chose not to recognize their importance in the development of the later games because the Greeks could have used them as a precedent for maintaining the Olympics in Greece.3

The Zappeian Olympics

The First Modern Greek Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1859, four years before the birth of Pierre Coubertin and five years before the first interscholastic track meet in England. The story of the uneven development of athletics in Modern Greece accounts, in part, for the reason why these games never fully successful, begins twenty-five years earlier. Greece in the 19th century was one of the poorest countries in Europe. It had emerged as an independent state under British, French and Russian tutelage in 1830 after a decade-long struggle against the Ottoman Empire. It had a population of about 700,000 in 1829, 800,000 in 1839 and about 1,500,000 by 1879. This growth was a result of natural growth and the acquisition of the Ionian Islands in 1863. The majority of the Greeks, over 2,000,000 in number, lived outside the Kingdom of Greece. The capital of the Greek Kingdom, Athens, had a population of 30,590 in 1853 and 65,499 in 1879.4 In spite of these limitations in population and development, the nascent Greek state attempted to develop athletics in schools by a
Yves-Pierre Boulogne, La vie et louvre pedagogique de Pierre Coubertin, 1863-1937 (Ottowa, 1975), 147-148; and John J. MacAloon, The Great Symbol: Pierre Coubertin and the Origins of the Modern Olympic Games (Chicago University Press, 1981), 147. 2 On these games, see: P. Coubertin, A Typical Englishman: Dr. W.P. Brooks of Wenlock, Review of Reviews 15 (1897): 62-65. For primary sources on these games, see the Internet page of the Wenlock Olympian Society ( 3 MacAloon, 150-151. 4 Nikolai Todorov, The Balkan City, 1400-1900 (University of Washington Press, 1983), 328-329, 334.


law in 1834 requiring two hours per week of physical education, based upon the practices of the German trainer, Hans Messman.1 In 1837, a Greek royal decree called for establishment of a national exposition of agriculture and industry, to be held annually in May. To make this fair more festive and national in character, the decree called for three day festival which would include various public games, namely horse races, running, discus, broad jump, javelin, national dances, and other exercises Contest winners would be awarded and crowned with laurel wreaths.2 In 1838, the very next year, the town of Letrinoi (present-day Pyrgos) in Elis, the home of the ancient games ... proposed ... that Olympic Games should be held on 25th March, the Greek national day, and circulated an announcement to this effect.3 Neither of these proposals came to pass. A serious effort to revive the Olympics in Greece was made in 1856 by Evangeles Zappas, a wealthy Epirote grain merchant residing in the Danubian Principalities (in present day Romania). A veteran of the Greek War of Independence of 1821-1830, Zappas had immigrated to Wallachia in 1831 and made a fortune in the grain trade. Zappas was one of a number of successful overseas Greeks who endowed the modern Greek state and their home areas with schools, hospitals and other educational and philanthropic institutions. During the nineteenth century, while Greece was bereft of the financial and material resources for such works, philanthropic migrs such as Arsakes, Averof, Domboles, Kaplanes, Rizares, Sinas, Stournaras, Tositsas, Varvakes, Zosimas and Zappas provided for their development and became known as ethnikoi evergetai (national benefactors).4 In 1856, Zappas had read a work by the poet Panagiotes Soutsos in the newspaper Helios calling for new Olympic games in Greece. Zappas wrote a letter to the Bavarian-born king of Greece, Otto or Othon, in which he offered his fortune for the revival of the games. However the king's foreign minister, Alexandros Rizos-Rangaves replied to Zappas that the character of the times had changed since then and that nations gained fame not, as then, from excellent athletes and runners, but from champions in industry, art and agriculture. Mimicking the contemporary European proclivity for industrial expositions, the western-educated Rizos-Rangaves urged Zappas to donate his funds toward the development of an exhibition hall in Athens for a quadrennial national and regional display of Greek industry crafts and agriculture. While agreeing to this, Zappas insisted that the hall be built near the site of the ancient stadium of the Panathenaia, and that the stadium be restored for use during the four Sundays of the exhibition, in popular festivals These festivals were to satisfy Zappas initial desire for the revival of the ancient Olympiads, with a

Evangelos Kalfaretzes, Leducation physique et dathletisme en Grece, in L'Education Physique dans le Monde, Pierre Seurin, ed. (Bordeaux, 1961), 183-184. 2 Royal Decree, 25 January (6 February) 1837, in Ephemeris tes Kyberneseos tou Basileiou tes Hellados, 5 (Athens, 1837): 20. 3 Szymiczek, 289. 4 On the career of Evangeles Zappas, see Anastasios Goudas, Bioi Paralleloi ton epi tes anagenneseos tes Hellados diaprepsanton andron, vol. 3 (Athens, 1870), 47-89; and Evangeles Zappas, in Mega Hellenikon Biographikon Lexikon, Spyros A. Vovolines and Konstantinos A. Vovolines, eds., vol. 1 (Athens, 1958), 392-410. On the national benefactors in general, see Goudas, vol. 2, 3 and 4 (Athens, 1870-1871); Mega Hellenikon Biographikon Lexikon, vol. 1, passim; and Archeia Ethnikon evergeton, K.P. Zavitzianos, ed. (Athens, 1929-1930); On the relationship of the Soutsos brothers and Zappas, see Young, The Modern Olympics, 1-8, 13-16. See also the website honoring Evangeles Zappas


tentative schedule ... setting the first Sunday for athletic events, the second for equestrian events, the third for musical events and the fourth for dramatic contests.1 The concept of a revival of the ancient games was thus compromised by the ministers of the Greek government in their insistence that the games be part of a national exhibition called the Olympiada. Zappas initially endowed the exhibition and games with 3000 gold florins and 400 shares of the Greek Danubian Steamship Company, the profits of which were to go toward the organization and maintenance of the Olympiads. King Otto issued a royal decree in August 1858, which called for a competition of the products of Greek effort, especially those of industry, agriculture and livestock breeding ... as well as athletic games to be held on the afternoon of the third day of the festival. Winners of the athletic competition were to receive prizes of 100 drachmae for first and 50 drachmae for second places in addition to an olive wreath crown.2 In the same year, a Greek scholar in France, Minoides Minas, published the first edition of Philostratos Gymnastike, which he had discovered in manuscript form in Constantinople in 1844. In his preface, Minas criticized the inclusion of an industrial and agricultural exhibition as part of the proposed Olympics. He also wrote that the proposed site of the athletic events, the remains of the stadium of Herodes Atticus in Athens, would need to be renovated, together with the construction of other facilities for the games. In his criticism, Minas stated that:
I do not think that this patriotic man, with zeal for the glory of the ancient Greeks, wanted a exposition hall of Greek industry built ... where are the factories - the textile, metallurgical, and paper mills of Greece from which victors can be rewarded? ... no glory will come to Greece except from the true revival of the Olympic games at which will be crowned athletes, runners, wrestlers, etc.3

Despite Minas plea for a strictly athletic festival, the organization of the games was placed under the National Industrial Council, which coordinated the organization of the Olympic Industrial Exhibition. This domination of the festival by individuals interested in the economic exhibition brought about a de-emphasis on the athletic competition and made them, in effect, a secondary aspect of the Olympic festival.4

The 1859 Athens Olympiad

In late September 1859, the regulations for the new games were published. The guidelines limited the events to running, broad jumping, discus and wrestling at the end of the general festival. They also gave procedures for the selection and duties of coaches (progymnastai, gymnastarchai), judges (hellanodikai), the herald (keryx), and other officials. The regulations also laid down rules for the selection of contestants, in which each athlete was to present himself before an Olympic council in Athens, or to a local board in the provinces. If chosen, the athlete was to go to Athens and train for
1 Evangeles Zappas, in Mega Hellenikon Biographikon Lexikon, vol. 1, 396; W. Decker and A. Kivroglou, The First Olympic Games of Zappas in 1859, in Contemporary Studies in the national Olympic Games Movement, Roland Naul, ed., (Frankfurt am Main, 1997), 9-18. 2 Ioannes E. Chrysaphes, Hoi protoi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1859), Hemerologion tes Megales Hellados 1924 (Athens; 1923), 327-328; I. E. Chrysaphes, Hoi Synchronoi Diethnoi Olympiakoi Agones (Athens, 1930), 29-30. 3 Chrysaphes, Hoi protoi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1859), pp. 328-329; and Chrysaphes, Olympiakoi Agones. 4 Young, The Modern Olympics, 18, 21.


one month prior to the games under the coaches of the games. This procedure harkened back to ancient custom in which contestants had been required to train under Eleian coaches for one month before the games held at Olympia. Another provision in the regulations for these first Modern Greek games was that those contestants who excelled in the games would be offered paid positions as coaches for subsequent games.1 The first games were held on 15 November 1859 in Loudovikos Square (or Place Louis, today known as Koumoundouros Square in the Psyri neighborhood in Athens), named after King Ludwig I of Bavaria, father of King Otto. The head coach or trainer for the games was Georgios Pagon, the first Modern Greek to study gymnastics in Germany and to publish a book on Gymnastics.2 The events of the games were mostly based upon the ancient events and included: the stadion (200 meters), the diaulos (400 meters), the dolichos (1400 meters), broad jump, high jump, triple jump, discus (height and length), javelin (length and accuracy), and pole climbing. In addition to track and field events, equestrian races were held earlier, including horseback and carriage races, divided into amateur and professional classes.3 The contemporary Athenian press considered the games a failure. It saw two faults in the games. According to press accounts there was a laxness in the entry rules. It seemed to journalists covering the event that the contestants included persons not properly trained but attracted by the cash prizes. One newspaper quipped that ... we have entered hooligans (manges) to compete in the games. This may indicate a class bias by the press, that athletics were a province of the propertied classes. This question would be brought up in later Greek Olympics and in the development of the ideology of amateur athletics in general.4 Another, more justified, indictment was raised concerning security and crowd control by the police and army, which vacillated between laxity and brutality. Because the site of the games was on level ground spectators strained to view the events, much like the jostling of crowds during a parade, but more massive and intense. This led to an overreaction by the police and army. One newspaper labeled the games tragicomic: Comic on the one hand because instead of athletics there were boyish games, tragic on the other hand because the armed forces ruthlessly hit men, women, the young the elderly, etc.5

1 Royal Decree, 30 September 1859, in Chrysaphes, Hoi protoi Olympiakoi agones en Athenai (1859), 330-333; and Chrysaphes, Olympiakoi Agones, 31-34; On the customs of the ancient games, see: Kleanthes Palaeologos, The Organization of the Games, in The Olympic Games, Nikolaos Yalouris, ed. (Athens, 1976), 104-113. 2 This book was entitled Perilepsis tes Gymnastikes (Athens, 1837) and was published by the state printing office. Chrysaphes, Hoi protoi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1859), 334. 3 Chrysaphes, Olympiakoi Agones, 35-36, 43-44. 4 For an excellent account of the development of the concept of modern amateur athletics and the myth of ancient amateurism, see David C. Young, The Olympic Myth of Greek Amateur Athletics (Chicago, 1984). Young also has the best western account and analysis of the modern Greek Olympics in Young, The Modern Olympics, 13-23, 42-52, 63-66. Young gives an excellent narrative of the relationship between the English and Greek precursor Olympics and proves that W.P. Brookes conceived of the idea of an international Olympics years before Coubertin. One of the prizes presented at the 1859 Greek Olympics was ten pounds sterling from W.P. Brooke and the Wenlock Olympic Committee, which not only sponsored Olympic games in Shropshire, but also inspired Olympic festivals in Liverpool, Lancaster and London in the 1850s and 1860s. Young, The Modern Olympics, 24-41. 5 Chrysaphes, Hoi protoi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1859), 334-335; and Chrysaphes, Olympiakoi Agones.


Ioannes Chrysaphes1, whose article and book on the 1859 games is the chief published sources on the event, evaluated their failure upon the lack of funds and preparation, as well as upon another factor:
In that era, however, when the custom and lore of the armatoloi and klephtes were still living elements of Greek life, with most of the veterans of the Sacred Struggle (for Greek Independence] still living, the learned organizers (of the games] did not turn to the immediate past and resuscitate the klephtic panegyri [festival], with its running, jumping, heaving the stone, wrestling and sharp shooting, which would start and end with Greek dancing and klephtic songs. They, with their facile flights of fantasy leaped to centuries past and reached the classical age. The stadion, the dolichos, the alma; people at a time when newspapers were not widely circulated, did not learn what would occur [at the games]. Even when they heard, they did not understand.2

The 1870 Athens Olympiad

Subsequent Olympiads were never held in four-year intervals as originally planned. Among the factors in the irregularity of the holding of the games were the domestic and foreign crises of the Greek state. The year of the next Olympiad, 1863, saw a change in dynasty in the kingdom of Greece. In 1867, when the third Olympic festival was to occur, Greece was embroiled in an international crisis involving an insurrection on Crete in favor of union with Greece. The games were not held again until 1870.3 Another reason why the games were postponed or not called every four years was the problem of finding an adequate site for the exhibition and games. The site of the 1859 Olympiad was inadequate for both the economic and athletic competitions, with unfortunate results during the games. In 1863 the Greek government had appropriated land at Loudovikos Square for the construction of the exhibition hall and athletic facilities, but Zappas wished it to be built closer to the ancient Stadium. This was in accordance with the plan agreed upon earlier with Foreign Minister Rizos-Rangaves. The final site chosen was an area between the Royal Gardens and the remains of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, next to the ancient stadium. Evangeles Zappas died in 1863 and left in his will an endowment, controlled by a testamentary body known as the Olympic Committee, which would use the funds of the gift, in part to build a facility of the Olympics with its own proper and spacious stadium, according to the plan which I sent to Mr. Rangaves ... An Olympic committee was organized by royal decree in 1865 and was headed by the Greek Minister of the Interior. The land for the

Chrysaphes wrote articles on the 1859 and 1870 Greek Olympics, the 1896 international Olympics and the 1906 intercalculated Olympics and a monographic history of the international Olympics which included in formation on the modern Greek Olympics. Part of this study is based upon these works Chrysaphes served as Greek Director of Physical Education in the Venizelos government between 1928 and 1935. His immediate superior was the Minister of Education, Georgios Papandreou, later Prime Minister of Greece in 1944 and 1963-1967. He was the father of the Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou (1981-1989, 1993-1996) and the grandfather of the present Greek Foreign Minister, George Papandreou. Lewis Reiss, The New Physical Education Movement in Greece, Journal of Health and Physical Education 2/2 (1932): 47-48. 2 Chrysaphes, Hoi protoi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1859), 336-337; and Chrysaphes, Olympiakoi Agones. 3 For a fine overview of these and other crises of Greek State in the nineteenth century, see Richard Clogg, A Short History of Modern Greece (Cambridge University Press, 1979), 70-104.


exhibition and games was not appropriated or purchased by the Greek government until 1869.1 While the problem of an adequate site was solved in 1869, another basic problem plagued the Modern Greek Olympic Games. They continued to be directly associated with the National Commercial Exhibition under the overall title of Olympiad. Thus the athletic competitions suffered from being given secondary treatment in the preparation of the facilities for the festival. When the second Modern Greek Olympiad was held in 1870, most of the funds seemed to have been allocated to the exhibition hall. As one eyewitness described it: A tasteful building was erected for the purpose; in the large open space where the columns of the temple of Jupiter Olympus stand. It was about one hundred and fifty feet long, with a transverse section of half that length. Three passages ran lengthwise of the building, on either side of which the articles on exhibition were arranged, with an excellent view to general and detailed effect. A Marble fountain threw up a stream of water near the center of the main aisle; and clusters of flowers, with the long, graceful leaves of the banana tree, enhanced the pleasing spectacle.2
While a building was erected for the exhibition, the Stadium was only cleared out and partially renovated for the Olympic Games. In describing the preparation and construction of the athletic facilities, the same observer wrote: Thus the level of the ancient racecourse was ascertained; and it became a comparatively easy task to cart away the accumulated debris of centuries, to restore the Stadium to it original smooth and graceful proportions. Nothing was required to be done to the surrounding banks, but to cut lines of seats and cover them with rough boards. On the occasion of the exhibition now under notice, a pavilion of painted wood, supported by pillars wreathed with olive and surmounted by flags, was erected at the end, and appropriated to the use of the King and Queen, and the members of the diplomatic corps. Running posts, climbing masts and ropes, and four flag-staffs, displaying the national standard, were set up on the space below. Thus was the panathenaic Stadium reinaugurated for the benefit of the modern Athenians, and with scarce a change - excepting in the substitution of wood for the marble seats - in its external form and appearance from former days ...3

It must be said with all fairness, however, that the facilities of the 1870 Commercial Exhibition were not permanent, and that the permanent exhibition hall and gardens, known as the Zappeion, were not completed until the Exhibition of 1888. The Stadium was not restored with marble until the First International Olympic Games in 1896. The temporary wooden facilities were used for the Games of 1870 and 1875.4 In spite of the temporary nature of the facilities, the games of 1870 were reported to have been a success. The program of the games was to include track and field competitions on 18 October 1870, with specific events consisting of the four hundred meter run, the triple jump, broad jump, wrestling, discus, javelin, pole vault, the pole
Ioannes E. Chrysaphes, Hoi deuteroi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1870), in Hemerologion tes Megales Hellados 1925 (Athens, 1924), 261; and Evangeles Zappas, in Mega Hellenikon Biographikon Lexikon, vol.1, 406, 408-409. For the complete text of Zappass will, see above, 405-408. 2 Charles K. Tuckerman, The Greeks of Today (New York, 1872), 165-166. This source is the only western account of the 1870 games found by this writer and has not been cited in David Youngs outstanding monograph. 3 Tuckerman, 166. 4 On the history of the Panathenian Stadium, see Aristea Papanikolaou-Kristensen, To Panathenakon Stadion: He historia tou tou mesa stous aiones (Athens: Ministry of Culture, 2003).


climb, the rope climb, and the tug-of-war. Equestrian, boating, swimming and sharp shooting events were planned for other days, but were cancelled due to the lack of time and financial means. The choosing and training of contestants followed the same procedure as the 1859 games. Aspirants had to appear before the Olympic committee or local boards and had to train under Olympic coaches for one month prior to the games. The head trainers and organizers of the games were Julius Enning, a German teacher of Music and gymnastics, and the Greek Daniel Tziotes, a teacher at the Public Gymnasium.1 The games began over one month late on the afternoon of Sunday, the 27 of November, with a religious ceremony, which had litanies for the success of the games, for the memory of Evangeles Zappas, and the health of the athletes. This was followed by the singing of the Greek national anthem and the introduction of the officials and athletes. Before three professors of the University of Athens serving as agonodikai (general judges), the athletes took an oath that they would compete honorably. One of the judges, Philippos Ioannou, gave the Olympic speech, which indicated the anti-athletic bias of a segment of the festivals organizers. In it he said, among other things, that: In our times ... when the progress of the physical sciences and engineering daily offer more perfect weapons of war, strength and the athletic development of bodily powers have lost a great part of their former worth Instead of a demonstration of physical strength and dexterity, preference should be given to the showing of excellence in the useful arts in human life ...2 Despite this negative speech, the games were held ... with unbelievable success... according to the vice-chairman of the Olympic committee.3 Between 20,000 and 30,000 spectators attended the games, one-third to one-half of the population of Athens. Comparable athletic meets in the larger cities of Europe and America, such as Liverpool and New York, attracted smaller crowds of 7,000 to 15,000 spectators.4 While Greek sources, such as Chrysaphes and the press of the era, testify to the success of the games, the most colorful evidence comes from the description of the 1870 Olympics given by the then American Minister in Residence, Charles K. Tuckerman:
Imagine this multitude of people seated with the utmost order and decorum in the open air, and covering the entire surface of the sloping banks, with the space below dotted with the athletae-some thirty well-formed men whose flesh-colored tights were the nearest approximation to the oiled nakedness of their ancestors, and a half dozen judges in blue sashes standing in the center of the arena. Add to this the bursts of military music from the band stationed below the royal pavilion, the shouts and the clapping of hands as the winner received his victorious wreath, and then the perfect beauty of the day. The performances occupied about three hours, and consisted of footraces, or the double course, viz.: up the centre of the Stadium, round the turning post and back to the point of departure--a distance of about four hundred English yards; rope-climbing, hand over hand, a distance of about twenty feet; and
1 On the preparation and regulations of the games, see Chrysaphes, Hoi deuteroi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1859), 263-270; and Chrysaphes, Olympiakoi Agones, 52-75. 2 Chrysaphes, Hoi deuteroi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1870), 264-265, 270-271; and Chrysaphes, Olympiakoi Agones, 76. 3 Chrysaphes, Hoi deuteroi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1870), 270; and Chrysaphes, Olympiakoi Agones, 83. 4 Chrysaphes, Hoi deuteroi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1870), 270; and Chrysaphes, Olympiakoi Agones, 83; and Tuckermen, 170. For numbers at other events, see G. Redmond, Prologue and Transition: The Pseudo-Olympics of the Nineteenth Century, pp. 12-13.


climbing the mast, with both hands and legs, to the height of sixty-three feet... There were two winners in this last arduous achievement. Then followed exercises in rope pulling, in leaping, with and without the pole, the greatest distance accomplished being about nineteen feet; flinging the discus or quoit, which measured twenty-five centimetres, and weighed two and three-quarter pounds; throwing the javelin, which frequently pierced the bull's eye at a distance of thirteen feet. Several well-contested-wrestling matches, after the manner of the pancratiasts, concluded the feats of the modern athletae. On the whole, these were of a higher order of merit than was generally expected at this, the first feeble attempt to revive Olympic Games on the spot where the ancient Greeks cover themselves with glory, over twenty-two centuries ago. 1

The 1870 Olympiads games were considered to be the best effort of modern Greece to revive the Olympics. They not only attracted the most crowds and maintained an orderly and dignified program, but also drew contestants from outside the kingdom of Greece. Of the thirty winning contestants, ten were from outside the contemporary borders of Greece, including athletes from Constantinople, Crete, Gallipoli and Thessaloniki. Thus the 1870 games were truly Panhellenic. The games were so successful that one modern scholar has remarked that:
To judge by todays standards the athletic program of the 1870 Athens Olympics was the most modern and sophisticated that the world had seen at that time. It included ancient Greek Olympic events such as the discus and javelin throws - unknown in England, America, and France - foot races, long jumps, and wrestling) and modern gymnastic events (such as a rope climb and a pole climb). Athletes from all around the Greek world, as in antiquity, assembled in the stadium and contended; in orderly fashion and as best they could, for Olympic victory. The winners were rewarded with their olive crowns and cash prizes ... The Games ended with dignity and virtually everyone, even the reporters, joined in praise of the restored Olympics ... These 1870 Games mark a high point in Olympic revivals prior to 1896, in most ways perhaps superior to several IOC editions after that date. A historian might seriously consider whether they should be reckoned as a legitimate descendant of the ancient Olympics and an ancestor of the successful 1896 games held in the same stadium, the Games which we count as the beginning of our own. 2

However, a negative reaction developed among the academic general judges in the wake of the 1870 games, led by Professor Ioannou. In a report to the vice president of the Olympic committee, the professors complained that the games were ... a parody of the ancient games ..., and that they were demeaned by the presence of working men instead of well-educated youth as some of the competitors. In their report they betrayed an elitist bias and distaste for track and field athletics. They urged that the Zappas funds be used to organize a public gymnasium, where gymnastics along
Tuckerman published this brief account of the games in his book, The Greeks of Today, 170-172. As American Minister in Athens, he sent this brief comment on the event to Washington: It is now proposed to continue these exhibitions at shorter intervals, say every four years, and to connect with them, as on the present occasion, athletic sport, after the manner of the ancient Olympiads. Report of Charles K. Tuckerman, 25 November 1870, in Department of State, Annual Report on the Commercial Relations Between the United States and Foreign Nations Made by the Secretary of State for the Year Ending September 30, 1870, (Washington, 1871), 246. 2 Young, The Olympic Myth of Greek Amateur Athletics, 31. Young substantiated his earlier assessment in The Modern Olympics, 43-45.


German turnplatz lines would be taught. While they grudgingly agreed that the Panathenian stadium should be rebuilt, they argued for the channeling of funds for gymnastic centers. 1 The Olympic committee later allotted funds for the building of a gymnasium, known as the Stadium, and the hiring of gymnastic instructors, led by Julius Enning and Ioannes Phokianos. With this play on word, the original intent of the Zappas will, the rebuilding of the ancient stadium, was distorted and the original purpose of the Zappas endowment, the revival of the Olympic Games, was further compromised. As in the case of emphasizing the commercial exhibition, the Olympic committee again slavishly imitated western practices by appropriating the Zappeian Olympic Games monies toward the transplanting of the German gymnastic system to Greece, which, according to its supporters, had been ... introduced in the schools of nations blessed with civilization.2

The 1875 and 1889 Athens Olympiads

This policy adversely affected the subsequent Modern Greek Olympic Games. The next competition of 1875, while held at the Panathenian stadium with basically the same rules and schedule as the 1870 games, could not compare with the previous Olympiad. These games suffered from a number of problems brought on mostly by the Zappas committee. For one thing, the contestants were limited to students of Coach Ioannes Phokianos, exclusively University and higher school students. Thus the pool of eligible athletes was diminished and the number of competitors in the games fewer, between fifteen and twenty athletes. The committee did not expend the time, effort and funds for the preparation and organization for the 1875 games that it had in 1870. Thus the events were not as well attended (about 10,000 to 15,000 spectators) as those of 1870. They were also poorly managed and contested. Lack of adequate facilities for spectators at the stadium was the main complaint. The 1875 Olympics received unanimous and severe criticism from the Athenian press, which had praised the 1870 games.3 They also were the objects of a condescending and satirical account by an English observer, which up until now has been the main western primary source for the Modern Greek games. 4 The next attempt at an Olympic athletic festival to coincide with the commercial exposition was even a bigger problem than it had been in 1875. In 1888 the Zappas committee initially announced that the games would be held at the stadium under the supervision of a Swiss gymnast, Borel. However Borel died shortly thereafter and the committee passed the initiative to Ioannes Phokianos, who privately funded and organized his own games. The Olympic games were held in 1889 at the central gymnasium with Phokianos students again as contestants. These games were basically an exhibition of gymnastics rather than athletic competitions. After an
1 Chrysaphes, Hoi deuteroi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1870), 274; Young, The Olympic Myth of Greek Amateur Athletics, 33-34; and Young, The Modern Olympics, 45-46. 2 Chrysaphes, Hoi deuteroi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1870), 274; Young, The Olympic Myth of Greek Amateur Athletics, 33-34; and Young, The Modern Olympics, 45-46. 3 Chrysaphes, Hoi deuteroi Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1870), 274; Chrysaphes, Olympiakoi Agones, 83-111; Young, The Olympic Myth of Greek Amateur Athletics, 33-34; and Young, The Modern Olympics, 45-46. 4 John P. Mahaffy, The Olympic Games at Athens in 1875, Macmillans Magazine, vol. 32 (1875), 324-327. A German account, R. Kleinpaul, Olympisches Spiel d. heutig Athens, Daheim, vol. 14 (1878), 486-488, was unavailable to this writer. Young, in both of his studies shows that Mahaffys account of the games was inaccurate and unfair, The Olympic Myth of Greek Amateur Athletics, 34-38, 40 and The Modern Olympics, 49-51.


abortive attempt to hold these games in public in the limited area of the gymnasium grounds, they were held before a limited audience. Nonetheless sources agree that within its limited scope, this Olympiad was a success. Two similar, but more successful meets, sponsored by the Panhellenic Gymnastic Society, were held in 1891 and 1893. 1

The Zappeian Olympiads and the Athens Olympiad of 1896

Within a year of these last efforts to revive the Olympics on a national scale in Greece plans were being made to hold the first international Olympic Games in Athens. Pierre de Coubertin had organized the International Olympic Committee and had begun planning for the first games to be held in Athens in 1896. A number of important personalities linked the former Greek national Olympics and the first International Olympics. Demetrios Vikelas, the Greek representative and the first president of the I.O.C. was a member of the earlier Zappas committee and of the Panhellenic Athletic Society. He was de Coubertin's chief collaborator in canvassing for the games in Greece and played an important role in preparing Athens for the International Olympics. Ioannes Phokianos, the organizer of the last gymnastic Olympics of 1889, 1891 and 1893 wrote a memorandum to Vikelas in 1894, which was used by Vikelas to show the I.O.C. of Greece's willingness to sponsor the first international games.2 Stephanos Dragoumis, the president of the Zappas Committee, also played a role, albeit negative, in the organization of the 1896 games. He and a majority of the Zappas committee, which oversaw the use of the Panathenian stadium, did not offer support and indeed discouraged the games from coming to Athens. One of the reasons for this was that the committee did not have the funds to support the games because of scrictures put upon the capital of the Zappas endowment by the Romanian government. Fortunately, the 1896 games were supported by the royal family, who had attended earlier Greek Olympics, and by Greek public opinion. The Zappas commission was eventually obliged to allow use of the stadium and the exhibition hall for the 1896 games. The sites of the earlier Greek Olympic festivals were used as facilities for the international Olympics. The stadium was the main center for track and field, wrestling, weightlifting and gymnastic competitions in the 1896 Olympics. Instead of temporary wooden stands for the games, funds were donated by a new national benefactor, Georgios Averof, for a permanent marble restoration of the stadium for the new games. The Zappeion exhibition hall served as the site for fencing competition and other ceremonies during the games. Thus the original vision of Evangeles Zappas was fulfilled in grander world form in spite of the testamentary committee and the lack of funds that had frustrated it for nearly forty years.3 Other factors also acted as links between the Modern Greek and international Olympic games. The ceremonies, events and prizes of the first international games, bore more resemblance to the Modern Greek games than that of the ancient games that they emulated. The ceremonies of the international and Modern Greek games resembled each other on many points because both had the ancient games as a model.
Chrysaphes, Hoi protoi diethneis Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1896), Hemerologion tes Megales Hellados 1926 (Athens, 1925), 291-292; Chrysaphes, Olympiakoi Agones, 112156. Young, The Olympic Myth of Greek Amateur Athletics, 41-43; and Young, The Modern Olympics, 63-65 2 Albert Krayer, Dimitrios Vikelas und die Ersten Olympischen Spiele, Stadion 21-22 (1995-1996) 100-123. 3 Chrysaphes, Hoi protoi diethneis Olympiakoi agones en Athenais (1896), 292; and Mandell, The First Modern Olympics, 88, 95-99.


But there were some aspects, as seen in Tuckermans description of the 1870 games and various accounts of the 1896 games, which indicate the use of the Modern Greek games as a partial model. No doubt those who made local arrangements for the 1896 games referred to the earlier games in the preparation of the program. For example the awards ceremony of the 1896 games borrowed more from the Modern Greek games than from the ancient games. In the 1896 games first-place winners received an olive branch, a silver medal and a certificate, while second-place winners received a laurel branch and a bronze medal. In the earlier Modern Greek games awards were: an olive wreath for first place, an olive branch for second place, and a laurel branch for third place, in addition to cash prizes of 100 and 50 drachmae for first and second place winners. Aside from the influence of the Modern Greek games upon the ceremonies of the Olympics, they also set precedents in the Olympic athletic events. Among the track and field events found in both the 1896 Olympics and the earlier Greek games were: the 400-meter run, the 1500-meter run, the broad jump, the high jump, the triple jump, the pole vault, the discus and the javelin. The last two events were first reintroduced in the Greek games in 1859 and became part of world competition in the 1896 games. In addition, the Hellenic national games incorporated swimming, boating, sharp shooting and equestrian events, which became part of the first international Olympic competition.

In these and in other ways the Modern Greek Olympics of 1859-1893 influenced the 1896 games and subsequent Olympic competitions. More research is needed to fully ascertain the impact of the Modern Greek games and other precursor Olympics upon the beginnings and development of international Olympic Games. Besides giving us a different view of the origins of the modern Olympics, study of the precursor Olympics helps us better understand the successes, failures and problems of twentieth century sport. David Young, for example, in his study of the myth of Olympic amateurism used the Modern Greek games as a paradigm on the growth of elitism in sports in the nineteenth century. He described how the games increasingly became a province of elite amateurs, harming rather than improving each succeeding Olympics. He also drew parallels between this problem in the Modern Greek games and the dubious role of amateurism in the international Olympic movement. In his later study, he sees both the English and Greek Olympic movements of the 19th century as definite precursors to the International Olympic Movement. Other points can be drawn from the failures and successes of the Modern Greek games. For example, an important reason for the weakness of the Modern Greek games was that they were shackled to a larger commercial exposition, which relegated athletics to a sideshow. This problem also plagued the 1900 and 1904 Olympics, which were unsuccessful because they were part of the Paris and St. Louis world expositions. In later Olympics, the games have been compromised by host countries in their efforts to propagate national and/or ideological proclivities. While not having to attend trade shows, spectators have had to endure the Nazi rituals of Berlin in 1936, the proletarian pomp of Moscow in 1980 and the Hollywood hype of Los Angeles in 1984. The phenomenal growth of mass media in this century has exacerbated and complicated this problem. Athletics are increasingly being pushed aside by other interests, be they commercial, national, ideological or political. An aspect of the Modern Greek games that may improve todays Olympics was the practice, adopted from the ancients, of having all Olympic competitors train together under the same coaches one month prior to the games. If this were adopted today, it


would be a move toward assuring that individual athletes, rather than coaches and costly state and private sports programs, would be the real competitors and winners in the Olympics. It would increase the chances of athletes from countries without large athletic budgets of competing successfully in the games. It would also foster international understanding among the athletes who would not only compete with one another during the Olympics, but would train together prior to the games. Finally, it would in a small way help to defuse politicization of the games brought on by national and ideological struggles, which use athletics as a weapon of rivalry rather than as a tool for peace and understanding. Aside from the commercial and athletic competitions of the Zappeian Olympics, there were also cultural competitions in poetry, literature, music and art. These parallel cultural competitions emulated aspects of the ancient athletic festivals. Increasingly there has been a movement to include such cultural events in the international Olympics. The Modern Greek Olympics of the nineteenth century, like other harbinger Olympics, were not a long-lasting phenomenon and are little known today. A brief look at these Olympiads nonetheless gives us insight into the origins of today's Olympics. It also affords us a chance of seeing the positive and negative aspects of 21st-century Olympic sport from another perspective. If it does not offer solutions, it at least raises questions about the problems within the world of athletics and the international Olympic movement. This alternative view of the development of the modern Olympics, especially its Greek precursors, was presented by Ioannes Chrysaphes in the early 20th Century. In the last 25 years a number of scholars, led by David Young, have sought to revise the history of the revival of the Olympics in modern times, including G. Redmond, W. Decker, V. Kivroglou, Christina Koulouri, Laszlo Kun, and this writer.1 They have attempted to give credit to the precursors of the modern international Olympics by recounting the efforts of such individuals as Robert Dover, Gustav Schartau, Panagiotes Soutsos, W. P. Brookes and Evangeles Zappas to revive the Olympics. Even some official scholars of the International Olympic Movement, such as Otto Szymiczek, Panagiotes Simitsek, and Kleanthes Paleologos have included information about these revivals before Coubertins efforts in their studies on the Olympics.2 Finally the present Dean of the International Olympic Academy, Konstantinos Georgiadis, has recently published an outstanding study, entitled Olympic Revival: The Revival of the Olympic Games in Modern Times, which includes whole chapters on the Olympic idea in early modern Greece, on attempts to revive the Olympics in
Decker and Kivroglou, The First Olympic Games of Zappas in 1859, 9-18; Koulouri, Athletism and Antiquity: Symbols and Revivals in Nineteenth Century Greece, 142-149; Koulouri, Modern Greece meets Antiquity. The revival of the ancient games in the last century, International Olympic Academy, 10th international seminar for Sports Journalists (; Laszlo Kun, Az Ujkori Olimpiai mozgalim alapjainak lerakasa (1894-1914), Vilgtrtnet 1 (1985): 80-102; Pappas, The Origins of the Modern Olympics: A Reinterpretation, 167-183; Redmond, Prologue and Transition: The Pseudo-Olympics of the Nineteenth Century, 7-21; Young, the Modern Olympics, passim; Young, The Olympic Myth of Greek Amateur Athletics, 28-43; and Young The Origins of the Modern Olympics: A New Version, International Journal of the History of Sport 4 (1987): 271 300. 2 Otto Szymiczek, The Revival of the Games, 289; Otto Szymiczek, Olympism-Olympic Movement Olympic games, in International Olympic AcademyTwentieth Session, June 1980 Ancient Olympia (; and Kleanthes Palaiologos, First thoughts and Acts for the Revival of the Olympic Games in Greece, Lecture given at the International Olympic Academy, 1966. Published in the OAR 1966, 121-125. The son of Otto Szymiczek, Panagiotes Simitsek, in his Olympiakoi Agones; to chroniko mias metallaxes (Athens: Europubli, 2003), not only give a short avccount of the Zappeian Olympics, but includes them in the list of modern Olympiads along with the later international games.


Greece prior to 1896, and on attempts to revive the Olympic outside of Greece before 1896.1 There has been a veritable tide of books, journal articles, and newspaper supplements in Greece on the history of the Olympics in expectation of the Olympic year 2004 in Greece. Many of these include significant sections on the Modern Greek harbinger Olympics, including a reprint of Chrysaphes 1930 study, and works by Evangelos Philippou, Menelaos Chronos, Ioanna Kourela, and Daniel Orphanoudakes.2 In addition, the newspaper Eleftherotypia has started a series on the Olympics in its weekly historical supplement, which has included information on the precursor Olympics.3 A collectively authored album, Olympiakes AgonesEikosiokto aiones, includes important sections that deal with the years between the demise of the ancient games and the revival of the modern games. 4 In January 2004, the Friends of Education Society sponsored an exhibit of rare Olympic publications and came out with an illustrated guide to the exhibit. Nearly half of the specimens of the exhibit came from the era of the Zappeian Olympics.5 Significantly there are two wellillustrated album books published wholly or partly in English which will have a broader international audience, these are Konstantinos Georgiadis Olympic Revival mentioned above, and Vasileios Kardasas beautiful bilingual album, The Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 and 1906, which includes a lengthy introduction that covers the precursor Olympics.6 Finally in early 2004, Alexander Kitroeffs study appeared which included a well-researched section on the Zappeian Olympics.7 Nevertheless there have been a number of recent publications in Greek that continue to ignore the precursor Olympics in Greece, these include an otherwise well produced journalistic account of the Olympics and an otherwise interesting article on the social and economic conditions in the years before the 1896 Olympics, published in the popular historical magazine Historia Eikonographemene.8 Nevertheless the popular literature and press in the west continue to ignore or merely briefly allude to these precursor Olympics.9 Perhaps in this upcoming Olympic
1 Konstantinos Georgiadis, Olympic Revival: The Revival of the Olympic Games in Modern Times (Athens: Ekdotike Athenon, 2003), 14-51. 2 Chrysaphes, Hoi Synchronoi Diethnoi Olympiakoi Agones (Athens, 1930; reprinted by Ekdoseis Koultoura, 2004); Menelaos Chronos, Olympiakes Agones kai Hellenismos: Epeiros (Athens: Phegos, 2003), 52-78; Ioanna Kourela, Olympiakes Agones apo ten Athena tou 1896 sten Athena tou 2004 (Athens: Ekdoseis Papazese, 2003), 40-43; Daniel A. Orphanoudakes, Olympiake Agones: Apo to stadio tes archaias Olympias sto Panathanaiko kai Olympiako stadio tes Athenas (Piraeus, 2002), pp. 49-55; and Evangelos Philippou, He historia ton synchronon Olympiakon Agonon, 1896-2000 (Athens, Savallas, 2002), 11-31. 3 Elefterotypia, Olympiaka Historika vol. 2, nos. 30-55 (Athens, 2002). 4 Olympiakes AgonesEikosiokto aiones: historia, athletismo, politismo (Athens: Lampropoulos, 2003). 5 Philekpaideftike Hetaireia Stoa tou Bibliou, Ekthese to orama ton Olympion: Spanies hellenikes ekdoseis gia ten Olympia kai tou Olympiakous Agones (1797-1906) apo te Bibliotheke tou Georgiou Dolianite. 14-29 Ianoiuariou. Ed. Kostas Spanos (Athens, 2004). 6 Vasileios Kardasas, Olympiakes Agones sten Athena tou 1896 kai tou 1906/ The Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 and 1906 (Athens: Ephesos, 2003), 29-45. 7 Alexander Kitroeff, Wrestling With the Ancients: Modern Greek Identity and the Olympics (New York: Greekworks.Com Inc, 2004). 8 Zacharias Kyriakou, Olympiakes Agones. He gennesehe anaviosehe epistrophe. Demosiographike epitheorese (Nicosia-Athens: Taxideftis, 2003); and Christina and Iosiph Kassesian, Talaiporo Asty talaiporon Athenaion: Ethe kai koinonikos bios sten Athena ton proton Olympiakon Agonon Historia Eikongraphemene 427 (January 2004): 94-101. 9 A search of popular computer databases such as Lexis-Nexis and Ebsco, found little on the precursor Olympics, but a search on Google found a number of items, including the internet pages of the Wenlock Olympian Society (


year, the press, the educational and cultural institutions, the government and the athletic organizations of Greece can further publicize this alternative view of the origins of the modern Olympics, especially in the international television and press.

games.html) and the Zappas foundation (, as well as a Greek website dealing with the history of the Olympics which had pages that dealt with the Zappeian Olympics ( This writer also found a well-produced Multimedia CD-Rom entitled Olympia: 2800 Years of Athletic GamesFrom Ancient Greece to the Modern Revival (Athens: Finatec Multimedia, 1995?), which includes a brief mention of the Zappeian games.