What is the course about?
Using images from sculpture and pottery and the descriptions by ancient authors, we shall look at the origins of the Olympic Games and how they developed over the centuries and also at games at other places in Greece such as Athens, Corinth and Delphi. We shall look at all the contests and how they differ from their modern versions but also at the lives of the athletes involved in the games and what it meant to win or lose or to be found cheating.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
The games that will be covered in the course include running, running in armour, discus, javelin, jumping with weights, boxing, wrestling, the pankration, pentathlon and equestrian events. At some games (such as Delphi and Athens) there were also music, poetry and painting competitions. The history of the Olympic Games from 776 BC to 393 AD will be looked at showing how different games were added over time. The differences between the four Panhellenic games, at which the prizes were wreaths only, and other games such as the Panathenaic games, at which the prizes were multiple amphorae of valuable olive oil, will be examined to judge the status of the athletes. The names of some of the athletes have survived and their stories will be examined as far as possible. We shall also look at the Heraen games for women but these were much smaller and less well recorded than the games for men.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Have a better knowledge of how game were conducted in Ancient Greece
- Understand how Ancient games relate to modern games
- Understand about the lives of the professional athletes and how they were viewed by their compatriots
- Discover the relationship between sport and religion.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course and does not assume any previous study or reading although you will need a good grasp of English to keep up with the course. As with most of our history and current affairs courses, an open mind and a willingness to listen to and think about views with which you do not always agree are more important than specific levels of skills.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course is run by Dr William Sterling so anyone familiar with his courses will be aware of the mixture of illustrated lectures, discussions, questions, reading and analysis of original texts (in translation).
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Please bring pen and paper.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Any Ancient Civilisation classes.