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Unformatted text preview: OLYMPIC GAMES - MYTHOLOGY TANTALUS PELOPS(+HIPPODAMEIA) NIOBE THYESTES ATREUS(+AEROPE) PITTHEUS CHRYSIPPUS AIGISTHOS AGAMEMNON MENELAOS ANAXIBIA TANTALUS Tested divine knowledge by serving to the gods his own son, PELOPS, at a banquet. The gods knew what had happened (except for mourning Demeter who tasted the shoulder, than the gods had to make a shoulder of ivory). Tantalus was punished (<tantalize) never to satisfy food and drink. PELOPS Pelops, the son of Tantalus, came from Asia Minor to Peloponnese to compete in a chariot race organised by Oenomaos, the king of Pisa in Peloponnese. Oenomaos challenged his daughter’s suitors to race. The winner would marry Hippodameia. The loser would lose his head. Pelops’ plan replaced chariot’s bronze linchpins with linchpins of wax King Oenomaos killed, Pelops married Hippodameia. Olympic games instituted as a purification rite for the murder of king Oenomaos/celebration of Pelops’ victory. Details in aetiology Oinomaos would sacrifice a ram before his chariot race, then he let the suitors have a head start until consecrated parts of meat were consumed by fire> chase the suitor, kill him. Theme parallel to Olympic ritual of the ram’s sacrifice at the precinct of Pelops Parallel to the myth about Pelops’ slaughter Older aition fused with the newer aition. Integration of aetiology. PINDAR Olympian 1 Pindar (classical lyric poet)- Olympian 1 a composition for the tyrant of Syracuse in Sicily to celebrate an olympic victory in horse race in 476 B.C. The poet rejects the myth of Pelops’ dismemberment of Pelops and his cannibalization at the feast of the gods. Instead proposes a myth of the young hero’s abduction by god Poseidon, who then repays Pelops by helping him win the chariot race with king Oenomaos. Substitution of one myth with another. Poetic fusion of two traditional myths. Greg Nagy’s view of subordination of the oldest athletic event (single-course foot race) to the fourhorse chariot race, very prestigious athletic event of Olympics in Pindar’s time. Pindar’s Olympian 1 reflects the evolving aetiology of the Olympics in early fifth century. Ancient games reflect ritual RITUAL-(Nagy’s definition) “set of formal actions that correspond to a given set of thought patterns that can take shape as a given myth.” Alternative Aetiology 10th Olympian Ode by Pindar. Story of Heracles in his fifth labor, clean the stables of Augeas in Elis. Heracles promised to clean the stables for the price of 1/10 of the king’s cattle, rerouted the rivers Kladeos and Alpheios to flow through the stables. Augeas did not fulfill his promise, Heracles started war against him. Instituted Olympics in honor of Zeus (taught men how to measure out the stade, length of footrace) Alternarively. Heracles founded Olympics in compensation of his great-grandfather, Pelops. Pelops had a daughter, she was the mother of Amphitryon, father of Heracles. Another fusion of two myths. Heracles myth > refoundation of Olympic games. RITUAL APPROACH (Walter Burkert) Archaic institutions of athletic activity involved practices that can be described as 1)rituals of initiation into adulthood 2) Rituals of compensation for the catastrophe of death. Initiation> ritualizes or symbolizes death and rebirth: one must “die” to one’s old self, to be “reborn” to new. Themes of symbolized death in the institutions of games: -at the olympics the athletes’ 30 day period of separation, sexual abstinence, fasting -wearing of black garb by the judges at events -crowning of victor with garlands that bear funerary connotations. History of Olympic games First games in Olympia in 776 B.C. First event stadion footrace. Every 4 years until 393 AD (lasted for 1170 years). Never suspended. In 146 BC the Romans gained control of Greece and > olympic games Sulla moved the 175th Olympiad (80 BC) to Rome. Abolished by Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I, in 393 AD. Other Panhellenic Festivals PYTHIAN games, every 4 years at Delphi, celebrated the gods’ victory over monster Python. Contests included singing, lyre playing, flute playing, dramatic performances, later athletic. ISTHMIAN games, every 2 years, at sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia. Originated by mythical Corinthian king Sisyphos, or Theseus, as funeral games for hero Melekertes. Controlled by Corinth. NEMEAN, at santuary of Zeus in Nemea, every 4 years. Heracles, nemean Lion or, as funeral games for child-hero Opheltes. Tampa Museum of Art- Archaic, chariot race Temple of Hera, Olympia, Greece Olympian Stadium Palaestra ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/15/2009 for the course CLASSIC 22030 taught by Professor Karanika during the Fall '07 term at UC Irvine.

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