A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympics

Neil Faulkner reads from his new book 'A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympics'

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Were the ancient Olympic games anything like the competitions we know today? Neil Faulkner's A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympics transports us to the games of 388 B.C., providing a lively guided tour of the ancient Greek Olympics and bringing to life the sights and sounds (and smells) of the competition. Reading from his book, Neil Faulkner describes boxing at the ancient olympics, a far more violent and gruesome spectacle than its modern equivalent.

More about 'A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympics'

What was it like to attend the Olympics in 388 B.C.? Would the experience resemble Olympic festivals as we celebrate them today? This remarkable book transports us back to the heyday of the city-state and classical Greek civilization. It invites us to enter this distant, alien, but still familiar culture and discover what the Greeks did and didn't do during five thrilling days in August 2,400 years ago.

In the Olympic Stadium there were no stands, no shade - and no women allowed. Visitors sat on a grassy bank in the searing heat of midsummer to watch naked athletes compete in footraces, the pentathlon, horse and chariot races, and three combat sports - wrestling, boxing, and pankration, everyone's favourite competition, with virtually no rules and considerable blood and pain. This colourfully illustrated volume offers a complete tour of the Olympic site exactly as athletes and spectators found it. The book evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of the crowded encampment; introduces the various attendees (from champions and charlatans to aristocrats and prostitutes); and, explains the numerous exotic religious rituals. Uniquely detailed and precise, this guide offers readers an unparalleled opportunity to travel in time, back to the excitement of ancient Olympia.

Listen to the Reading