Games For The Gods. The Greek Athlete And The Olympic Spirit. Sports were a vital part of daily life in ancient Greece, just as they are in contemporary society. Athletic tournaments were held to venerate the gods and honor local heroes. The Olympic Games were the oldest and most prestigious of four original athletic festivals.
Games for the Gods explores these ancient contests, unearthing the original traditions of athletics and comparing them to our own. Greek customs such as associating athletic festivals with certain gods, seeing athletes compete in the nude, and watching them indulge in dirty fighting as accepted practice are foreign to us. But the excitement of competition, admiration for athletic skill, and adoration of champions – as well as several of the sports – are just as familiar to fans today as they were to the ancients. The Greek games here come to life in a series of texts that investigate the Olympic Games then and now, the origins of the games and various athletic events, and the ways in which the contests were prepared for and the victors honored. With illustrations of over 140 sculptures, vases, and coins from collections across the United States, as well as images of modern athletics by photographers such as Herb Ritts, Annie Leibovitz, Leni Riefenstahl, Howard Schatz, and John Huet, Games for the Gods is a unique celebration of the Olympic spirit through the ages. Olympic Games.