The documentary ‘The Ancient Greek Olympics’ broadcast by British Channel 4 shows a different view of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, clearly more corrupt and more ‘hot’ than what comes to mind when modern people think about the Olympics.
According to official description of the documentary, filmmaker Antony Thomas travelled back to the ancient Hellenistic times from Sicily to Sparta. He tried to find out the real social conditions surrounding this athletic event, whose particularities included halting wars during its duration and prohibited not only the participation of women but also their watching the events.
In fact, it is a documentary which shows more spicy stories with regards to the ancient Olympics, all these stories that have nothing in common with the Olympic spirit and ancient Greece’s magnitude.
First comes the story of athlete Cleomedes of Astypalea who killed his opponent with his fist, was then excluded from the Games, returned embarrassed to Astypalea and killed 60 students by making their school collapse.
Maybe in a bid to prevent future complaints about the traffic jams in London during the Games, the British director stresses the fact that even in ancient times, there was even worse traffic jams on the way to ancient Olympia.
As expected, they did not forget to comment that athletes were completely naked.
As for the Olympic torch race, Mr Thomas claims that it was invented by the Nazis for Berlin’s Olympics in 1936. He also commented on hygiene during the Games and marks it as “terrible.” However, he says that conditions changed in the second century AD, when a Roman donator constructed an aqueduct.
Last but not least, the British documentary presents ancient Greece as rather corrupt. Ancient Calippos of Athens was arrested on bribery charges because he offered money to his opponents to let him win or another story with an athlete’s father paying a bribe to his son’s father for the same reason. And of course, Roman emperor Nero who finished last but, just because he was an important sponsor of the Games, he was awarded the gold medal.