Ancient Greece is one of the most ancient civilizations in history and some historians say it is one of the greatest. They have survived many invasions and attacks from barbarians and Persians as well. The Greeks those times were divided into city states and they don’t have any form of alliance with each other. They don’t help each other on wars they except for times that they don’t have a choice. The Greek society is basically unique. Greece had never been united under one sole ruler. And even the city states are fought among each other on whom or which city-state should rule Greece.
These qualities of the Greece made the Greek history interesting. Mark Golden’s book, Sport and Society in Ancient Greece, had elaborated the key points of the Greek society subjected on common theme. The book uses the Greek sport and games to give very good description of the Greek society. It expressively explained the sport as very important part of the society of Greece. In addition to this, he related the Greek sport to religion, social status, gender, age and other things that constitute to study of its society.
Golden uses the sports arena to surface the differences among individuals and groups of the Greek society. The fact that it is theme-oriented made the book readers friendly. Most history professor uses this book as a very good guide to teach history. The themes use in the Golden’s book made it reader friendly. Identifying the themes of the book would be relatively easy. One of the themes he used is the Greek sport. In fact, it unites all ideas in the book. He used the Greek sport as a standpoint of the differences of the Greeks. He explained it using various events in the competitions and its competitors.
He explained why most explained that in every event there is a kind of group that can participate. He also expressly give emphasize the difference of participants in the athletic events to the equestrian events. In virtue of this, he elaborated the tension between to the two types of contest. He explained that he sees the difference on the participants of the said events reflect on how the Greek society was comprised. Another theme he used in his book was the stories of Iliad and Odyssey. He uses explain the start of the games and the religious beliefs of the Greek society.
The stories of Iliad and Odyssey was widely use in their religious activities. The fact that most of the games was done in tribute to the Gods of Greece. They do this by reliving the great stories of both Homer’s epic novel. They believe that Homer’s epic novel were very accurate about the Gods activities. They had lived with this belief with so many years. The next theme which Mark Golden used in the book was the historical background of Greece. He stated several historical events in Greece that influences the Greek culture and the games.
He had explained briefly how some games had started and the changes that the Greeks had implemented to the games. He had emphasized the importance of these historical events to the Greek society. The last theme that I will list here is the relation of the social status to events a Greek can participate. He uses this theme through out the book. He basically discusses the social hierarchy the Greek have in their society as times came by. The book clearly differentiated the differences on how a group of Greeks or an individual can participate in the sport or the games.
Golden stated that in the equestrian events slaves can only win as jockeys and other rules they applied in this event. The social discrimination in the Greek society was highlighted in the book. The themes he uses simply put the book in position that it is easy to read, can be use as teaching material because of its reliability, and its distinct use of other literatures of other historians. With this book, I could relive the moment the games had begun and gone on until today. I lived in Athens during the time Olympics had been established. It was a glorious moment for the Greeks.
Everyone believed that these games can unite the whole of Greece where it could fight and function as one whole country. The start of the game signaled a turn in the history of the Greeks. The feeling of this glorious moment is very pleasing to me and to other Greeks as well. Imagine that a Greek won’t face another Greek in the battlefield again. I would join the games to prove the dominance of Athens over other city states. Joining the games as an Athenian is a privilege and a great honor for me. And befriending other Greek is as not bad as it looks in the past.
Being at war with other Greek is pain that a soldier must overcome. Being a soldier, killing other Greeks is the most painful thing to do. It is as if it was killing your own brother. Nowadays that pain is nothing but a pigment of the past. I’m glad that my sons would not feel that pain that anymore. They will not go up against other Greeks except at the games. And it is for the gods after all. They had blessed us of something great. I thank our Gods that they found a way to stop the quarreling between city states of great Greece.
After reading the book, I’ve come to think that the Greek games and sports are done to unify Greece and for entertainment. The world had mimic the Greek games and created Olympics. It symbolizes the unity of the nations participating in the Olympic Games. The fact that culture of Greek is carry out by the nations in the Olympics. It raises a sense of pride among the Greeks. Another thing is a realization that sports does come from religion. The games were held in religious festival in ancient times. The sports today are said to have a purpose of camaraderie, enjoyment, and battle of skills.
It is shocking to know that it came from religion. The showing of facts in the book of Mark Golden had convinced me that sports started as tribute to the Gods. And that the relation of the religion and sports is undeniable. He presented reliable evidences that strengthened a claim made by a priest. The idea of classifying the participants that participate in an event was a shocking revelation. I thought at first that the classification of participants was done only to make the games fair. And that is invented after the world wars.
It is shocking to know that these classifications were really done due to social status in ancient Greece. The structure of the games from those times to these days is very different. But to know that they have the same purpose is quite a relief. The most important idea that occurred to after reading Mark Golden’s book is that literature has something to do with sports. If you look at sports and literature at plain logic, they are very different because literature uses mental capabilities while the sports and games use physical abilities.
The connection of literature and sports was established clearly in Mark Golden’s book. He clearly stated the relation of the two. The realization of the relation between the two is quite interesting and mind bugling. Mark Golden’s book clearly is one of a kind. Historians who read his book were very enthusiastic to discuss Greek history to his class. The reliability of the book make more convincing to historians or even to non-historians. The book is really a must read to people to who likes Greek history. Works Cited Golden, Mark. Sport and Society in Ancient Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998
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