Olympic Myths

Ich rufe die Jugend der Welt

The Ancient Olympic Games were a series of competitions held between representatives of several city-states and kingdoms from Ancient Greece, which featured mainly athletic but also combat and chariot racing events. During the Olympic games all struggles against the participating city-states were postponed until the games were finished.
The origin of these Olympics is shrouded in mystery and legend.

One of the most popular myths identifies Heracles and his father Zeus as the progenitors of the Games. According to legend, it was Heracles who first called the Games "Olympic" and established the custom of holding them every four years.
A legend persists that after Heracles completed his twelve labors, he built the Olympic stadium as an honor to Zeus.
Following its completion, he walked in a straight line for 200 steps and called this distance a "stadion" (Greek: στάδιον, Latin: stadium, "stage"), which later became a unit of distance.
Another myth associates the first Games with the ancient Greek concept of Olympic truce (ἐκεχειρία, ekecheiria).
The most widely accepted date for the inception of the Ancient Olympics is 776 BC; this is based on inscriptions, found at Olympia, of the winners of a footrace held every four years starting in 776 BC.
The Ancient Games featured running events, a pentathlon (consisting of a jumping event, discus and javelin throws, a foot race and wrestling), boxing, wrestling, pankration, and equestrian events.
Tradition has it that Coroebus, a cook from the city of Elis, was the first Olympic champion.

The Olympics were of fundamental religious importance, featuring sporting events alongside ritual sacrifices honoring both Zeus (whose famous statue by Phidias stood in his temple at Olympia) and Pelops, divine hero and mythical king of Olympia. Pelops was famous for his chariot race with King Oenomaus of Pisatis.

The Temple of Zeus
The Temple of Zeus at Olympia was an ancient Greek temple in Olympia, Greece, dedicated to the chief of the gods, Zeus.
The temple, built between 472 and 456 BCE, was the very model of the fully developed classical Greek temple of the Doric order.
The temple stood in the most famous sanctuary of Greece, which had been dedicated to local and Pan-Hellenic deities and had probably been established towards the end of the Mycenaean period.
The Altis, the enclosure with its sacred grove, open-air altars and the tumulus of Pelops, was first formed during the tenth and ninth centuries BCE Greece's "Dark Age", when the cult of Zeus was joined to the already established cult here of Hera

Statue of Zeus

It housed the renowned statue of Zeus, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Chryselephantine statue was approximately 13 m (43 ft) high and was made by the sculptor Phidias in his workshop on the site at Olympia. He took about twelve years to complete it. On his head was a sculpted wreath of olive sprays. In his right hand he held a figure of Nike, the goddess of victory, also made from ivory and gold, and in his left hand, a scepter made with many kinds of metal, with an eagle perched on the top. His sandals were made of gold and so was his robe. His garments were carved with animals and with lilies. The throne was decorated with gold, precious stones, ebony, and ivory. The statue was the most famous artistic work in Greece.


The temple was constructed by the architect Libon, with carved metopes and triglyph friezes, topped by pediments filled with sculptures in the Severe Style, now attributed to the "Olympia Master" and his studio.
The main structure of the building was of a local limestone that was unattractive and of poor quality, and so it was coated with a thin layer of stucco to give it an appearance of marble. All the sculptural decoration on the temple was made of Parian marble, and the roof tiles were of the same Pentelic marble used to build the Parthenon at Athens.


The unifying theme of iconography of the temple is the dike or justice based on custom, as represented by Zeus, its upholder.
The east pediment, erroneously attributed to Paeonius by Pausanias, who gave a detailed account of its sculptures in the late second century CE, depicted the myth of the chariot race between Pelops and Oenomaus, with Zeus standing in the centre, flanked by standing pairs of heroes and heroines, and the two chariot groups, with recumbent figures in the corners. Hippodameia and her maid stand to Zeus' left (north), and Pelops to Zeus' right. A great part of all fifteen figures has been recovered, in carefully documented excavations; scholars still discuss the placement and interrelationships of six seated or kneeling figures in the composition, and their specific identifications.

The west pediment depicted the Centauromachy, the fight at the wedding of Peirithoos between the Lapiths and the centaurs, who had violated xenia, the sacred rules of hospitality that support the social norms. Apollo stood in the centre, flanked by Peirithoos and Theseus. Peirithoos, king of the Lapiths has invited the centaurs to a wedding celebration. The centaurs get drunk and kidnap the women. Perithoos succeeds in defeating them. The Lapiths have been taken to represent the civilised Olympian order of the Greeks themselves, while the Centaurs represent primitive nature of chthonic beings; the frieze also reminded fifth-century Greeks of their victory over the Persians, "outsider" threateners of the Hellenic order. The statue of Apollo (currently in the Archaeological Museum of Olympia) was depicted on the obverse of the Greek 1000 drachmas banknote of 1987-2001.
The pronaos and opisthodomos, the entrance portico and the balancing false portico at the rear, were constructed in antis, with six metopes at either end, carved with the 12 labours of Heracles, in which Heracles successfully defeats a series of creatures and monsters that threaten righteous order.

The winners of the events were admired and immortalized in poems and statues.

The Games were held every four years, and this period, known as an Olympiad, was used by Greeks as one of their units of time measurement.
The Games were part of a cycle known as the Panhellenic Games, which included the Pythian Games, the Nemean Games, and the Isthmian Games.
The Olympic Games reached their zenith in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, but then gradually declined in importance as the Romans gained power and influence in Greece.
There is no consensus on when the Games officially ended, the most common-held date is 393 AD, when the emperor Theodosius I declared that all pagan cults and practices be eliminated.
Another date cited is 426 AD, when his successor Theodosius II ordered the destruction of all Greek temples.

After the demise of the Olympic Games, they were not held again.

In the 19th century a bastardised version of the Olympic Games, similar only in name was supposedly 'revived'.
The first attempt to introduce sporting events going under the name of 'Olympic Games' was the L'Olympiade de la République, a national 'Olympic' festival held annually from 1796 to 1798 in Revolutionary France.
The competition included several disciplines adapted from the ancient Greek Olympics.
The 1796 Games also marked the introduction of the metric system into sport.

In 1850 a 'so called' Olympian Class was started by Dr William Penny Brookes at Much Wenlock, in Shropshire, England. In 1859, Dr Brookes changed the name to Wenlock 'Olympian Games'.
This annual sports festival continues to this day.
The Wenlock 'Olympian' Society was founded by Dr. Brookes on November 15, 1860.
Between 1862 and 1867, Liverpool held an annual Grand 'Olympic' Festival. Devised by John Hulley and Charles Melly, these games were the first to be wholly amateur in nature and international in outlook, although only 'gentlemen amateurs' could compete.
The programme of the first modern so called 'Olympiad' in Athens in 1896 was almost identical to that of the Liverpool 'Olympics'.
In 1865 Hulley, Dr. Brookes and E.G. Ravenstein founded the National 'Olympian' Association in Liverpool, a forerunner of the British 'Olympic' Association.
Its articles of foundation provided the framework for the International 'Olympic' Charter.
In 1866, a national 'Olympic Games' in Great Britain was organized at London's Crystal Palace.
Greek interest in reviving the Olympic Games began with the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821.
It was first proposed by poet and newspaper editor Panagiotis Soutsos in his poem "Dialogue of the Dead", published in 1833.
Evangelis Zappas, a wealthy Greek-Romanian philanthropist, first wrote to King Otto of Greece, in 1856, offering to fund a permanent revival of the Olympic Games.
Zappas sponsored the first Olympic Games in 1859, which was held in an Athens city square.
Athletes participated from Greece and the Ottoman Empire.
Zappas funded the restoration of the ancient Panathenaic stadium so that it could host all future Olympic Games.
The Panathinaiko Stadium hosted Olympics in 1870 and 1875.
Thirty thousand spectators attended that Games in 1870 though no official attendance records are available for the 1875 Games.


In 1890, after attending the Olympian Games of the Wenlock Olympian Society, Baron Pierre de Coubertin was inspired to found the International 'Olympic' Committee (IOC).
Coubertin built on the ideas and work of Brookes and Zappas with the aim of establishing internationally rotating 'Olympic Games' that would occur every four years.
He presented these ideas during the first 'Olympic Congress' of the newly created International 'Olympic' Committee.
This meeting was held from June 16 to June 23, 1894, at the Sorbonne University in Paris.
On the last day of the Congress, it was decided that the first 'Olympic' Games, to come under the auspices of the IOC, would take place in Athens in 1896 - (why not Olympia ?)
The IOC elected the Greek writer Demetrius Vikelas as its first president.

Today the highly comercialised Games are held every four years, each year in a different city in the world, and as time has gone by more and more bizzarre sports have become accepted as Olympic sports.
In addition there is now a separate 'Youth games', and 'Paralympics' Games - (Paralympics is not even a real word and has no meaning).


The five Olympic rings represent the five continents involved in the Olympics and were designed in 1912, adopted in June 1914 and debuted at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics.
The symbol of the Olympic Games is composed of five interlocking rings, coloured blue, yellow, black, green, and red on a white field.
This was originally designed in 1912 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games.
Upon its initial introduction, de Coubertin stated the following in the August, 1912 edition of Olympique:
The emblem chosen to illustrate and represent the world Congress of 1914...: five intertwined rings in different colours - blue, yellow, black, green, and red - are placed on the white field of the paper.
These five rings represent the five parts of the world which now are won over to Olympism and willing to accept healthy competition.
In his article published in the "Olympic Revue" the official magazine of the International Olympic Committee in November 1992, the American historian Robert Barney explains that the idea of the interlaced rings came to Pierre de Coubertin when he was in charge of the USFSA, an association founded by the union of two French sports associations and until 1925, responsible for representing the International Olympic Committee in France: The emblem of the union was two interlaced rings (like the vesica piscis typical interlaced marriage rings) and originally the idea of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung: for him, the ring symbolized continuity and the human being.
According to de Coubertin the ring colours with the white background stand for those colors that appeared on all the national flags of the world at that time.
De Coubertin may have been inspired by an Dunlop tires magazine ad depicting five bicycle tires, which appeared at the time he invented his design, according to historian Karl Lennantz.
The 1914 Congress had to be suspended because of the outbreak of World War I, but the symbol and flag were later adopted.
They would first officially debut at the Games of the VII Olympiad in Antwerp, Belgium in 1920.
The symbol's popularity and widespread use began during the lead-up to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Carl Diem, president of the Organizing Committee of the 1936 Summer Olympics, wanted to hold a torchbearers' ceremony in the stadium at Delphi, site of the famous oracle, where the Pythian Games were also held.
For this reason he ordered construction of a milestone with the Olympic rings carved in the sides, and that a torchbearer should carry the flame along with an escort of three others from there to Berlin.
The ceremony was celebrated but the stone was never removed.
Later, two British authors Lynn and Gray Poole when visiting Delphi in the late 1950s saw the stone and reported in their "History of the Ancient Games" that the Olympic rings design came from ancient Greece. This has become known as "Carl Diem's Stone"
 This created a myth that the symbol had an ancient Greek origin.
The rings would subsequently be featured prominently in Nazi images in 1936 as part of an effort to glorify the Third Reich.
The current view of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is that the symbol "reinforces the idea" that the Olympic Movement is international and welcomes all countries of the world to join.
As can be read in the Olympic Charter, the Olympic symbol represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.
However, no continent is represented by any specific ring.
Prior to 1951, the official handbook stated that each colour corresponded to a particular continent: blue for Europe, yellow for Asia, black for Africa, green for Oceania and red for America (North and South considered as a single continent); this was removed because there was no evidence that Coubertin had intended it.
So - the Rings have nothing to do with the real Greek Olympics !


The Olympic mascot is a character, usually an animal native to the area or occasionally human figures, who represents the cultural heritage of the place where the Olympic and Paralympic Games are taking place.
Since the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France the Olympic Games have had a mascot.
The first major mascot in the Olympic Games was Misha in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
Starting with the 2010 Vancouver mascots, the Olympic and Paralympic mascots have been presented together.

Wenlock and Mandeville are the official mascots for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics being held in London, United Kingdom.

The mascots were unveiled on 19 May 2010;this marks the second time (after Vancouver's Miga, Quatchi, Sumi and Mukmuk) that both Olympic and Paralympic mascots were unveiled at the same time.
The mascots were created and designed by iris (who don't understand the meaning of capital letters), a London-based 'creative agency'.
Wenlock and Mandeville are animations depicting two drops of steel from a steelworks in Bolton ?
They are named after the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock, which held a forerunner of the current so-called Olympic Games, and Stoke Mandeville Hospital, a facility in Buckinghamshire that initially organised the Stoke Mandeville Games, the precursor of the Paralympic Games.
Modern 'Olympic' art resembles one eyed abortions, while the ancient Greeks produced some of the finest masterpieces of western art to celebrate their true Olympics.


The media in the United Kingdom was saturated before the Games began with reports and images of the 'Olympic Torch'.

Strangely, no mention was made of the origins of the Olympic Torch Relay - although there has been a suggestion that it has 'deep' and 'mystic' origins in 'democratic' ancient Greece.

In fact the first Olympic Torch Relay was instituted by the organisers of the Berlin Olympics.
The 1936 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad, was held in Berlin, Germany.
The Olympic Flame was used for the third time at these Games, but this marked the first time it was kindled in Olympia, Greece, and then brought to the Olympic Stadium by a torch relay.
The National Socialist concocted a quasi-religious ceremony at Olympia, which involved a torch being kindled by the rays of the sun at the hands of 'so-called' priestesses of Apollo (why not Zeus as he was the patron god of Olympia).

In the 1870s the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the symbol of the Swastika in the site of ancient Troy and associated it with the ancient migrations of Proto-Indo-Europeans.

He connected it with similar shapes found on ancient pots in Germany, and theorized that the swastika was a "significant religious symbol of our remote ancestors", linking Germanic, Greek and Indo-Iranian cultures.
The work of Schliemann soon became intertwined with the völkisch movements, for which the swastika was a symbol of the "Aryan race", a concept that came to be equated by theorists such as Alfred Rosenberg with a Nordic 'master race' originating in northern Europe.

For the Nazis the sun, which was represented by the swastika was, the source of creativity and life, and flames kindled by the sun's rays were equally symbolic of the creativity and life of the Aryan race - the ancient Greeks, of course, being considered Aryans par-exellence.

This also explains why the Nazis were so enamoured with torchlight processions, and flaming cauldrons.

For the Games of the XI Olympiad a beautiful torch was designed, bearing the olympic rings and a map of the torch relay etched onto the handle.
In the Olympic stadium in Berlin a huge bronze 'cauldron' was created.
This cauldrom was lit at the comencement of the Games, and was ceremoniously extinguished on the last night of the Games, and this custom has been continued ever since.
So, the modern 'Olympics' is centred round a Völkisch ceremony of Aryan Sun worship - with no connection to the ancient Greeks.

And there are other strange connection between the 1936 Berlin Games and the present 2012 London Games

BMW MINI was chosen by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) as the Official Automotive Partner - German company for British Olympics ?
Guenther Quandt (see left), the founder of BMW, (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG - Bavarian Motor Works), was a member of the Nazi party and benefited from its 'Aryanisation' programme by taking over Jewish firms.

His wife, Magda Behrend Quandt, later divorced him and married Joseph Goebbels, with whom she died in Hitler's bunker in 1945.

Guenther Quandt and Magda Behrend Quandt had one son, Harald, who stayed with his mother, had Joseph Gobbels as his step-father, and Adolf Hitler (see right) as his god-father.
Harald Quandt (Gobbles) (see left, in Hitler Youth Uniform) inherited his father's interests in BMW and managed them until his death in a plane crash in 1967.
Quandt factories employed 50,000 slave labourers to churn out weapons and ammunition for the Nazis during World War Two, making the family very, very rich.

The Quandt family, at the time of the London 2012 Olympics, still retains the majority of shares in BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG).

LOCOG made Adidas the  official sportswear partner of the London Olympics and sponsor of Team GB - and here's what they have to say:
'Adidas have a clear, simple and unwavering passion for sport. Benefitting from 50 years of innovation and creation adidas continue to stay at the forefront of technology. Adidas are the official sportswear partner to the London Olympics Games in 2012 and have been involved in the Olympics since 1928.'
And Adidas® did a great job for Hitler's 1936 Olympics.
Adidas AG is a German sports clothing manufacturer and parent company of the Adidas Group, which consists of the Reebok sportswear company, TaylorMade-Adidas golf company (including Ashworth), and Rockport.
Besides sports footwear, Adidas® also produces other products such as bags, shirts, watches, eyewear, and other sports- and clothing-related goods.

Adidas® is the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe and the second biggest sportswear manufacturer in the world.
Rudi (Rudolf) and Adi (Adolf) Dassler, founders of the company, were both members of the Nazi Party !
Adidas®, is a sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics, and the makers of Team GB kit.
Makes sense - a German company making kit for Team GB !

So how are the modern 'Olympics' different to the real, Greek Olympics.

Firstly the Ancient Greek Olympic Games was an essentially religious celebration - dedicated to the Greek God Zeus.
The modern so-called 'Olympics' is an atheistic festival - it makes no reference to spiritual matters.
The original Olympics was restricted to male athletes - men and boys - there was no youth Olympics.
The first Olympic ideal was not 'taking part', but winning, and there was only one winner - no gold, silver and bronze.
The second Olympic ideal was the exaltation of the male human form - the perfect body - and to this end all the contestants competed naked.
Because beauty was the Olympic ideal there was no place for competitors with physical deformities, and therefore there was no Paralympic Games - which the Greeks would have considered a ridiculous nonsense.


Many of the traditions of the modern 'Olympic' Games originated with the 1936 Berlin Olympics - which is probably not surprising as the Nazis were masters of propaganda and spectacle.
The Logo of the Berlin Olympics was the 'Olympia Glocke' - the Olympic Bell - to be tolled at the opening and closing of the Games.
Interestingly, one of the 'secrets' of the London 2012 Games, revealed at the opening ceremony, was a huge bell (see right), tolled as the games were opened.
The Original 'Olympia Glocke' survived the 1939-1945 war, and still exists, and can be seen outside the Berlin 'Olympic Stadium'.


The great theme of the real Olympics is beauty - beauty as an offering to the gods.
The Architecture of Olympia was some of the finest that the ancient Greeks ever created.
Of the modern so-called 'Olympic Games' there are only two examples of 'good' architecture.

The first example, not surprisingly, is in Athens in Greece - the Panathinaikos Stadium.

The other example comes from the 1936 Berlimn Olympics - which were possibly the nearest in spirit to the original Hellenic Olympic Games.
As for the 2012 Games in London - well, the architecture is just a collection of scafolding, canvas and the occassional bit of brick.
Undoubtedly most of it will have fallen apart in a few years, which is just as well.
As for beauty - well, for the London Games nobody even thought of it - 'beauty - no - we want money !'
And one of London's most beautiful parks has been desecrated for the equestrian events with an appalling stadium which looks like it might collapse in the first puff of wind.
Fortunately for the park, and those who use it, the structures are temporary - and really look it !

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
this is real stadium architecture

The Coliseum is the only stadium to have hosted the Olympic Games twice, in 1932 and 1984.
It is also the only Olympic stadium to have also hosted Super Bowls and World Series.
It was declared a National Historic Landmark on July 27, 1984, the day before the opening ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics.
The Coliseum was commissioned in 1921 as a memorial to veterans of World War I (rededicated to veterans of all wars in 1968).
The official ground breaking ceremony took place on December 21, 1921 with work being completed in just over 16 months, on May 1, 1923.
Designed by John and Donald Parkinson, the original bowl's initial construction costs were $954,873.
When the Coliseum opened in 1923, it was the largest stadium in Los Angeles with a capacity of 75,144.
In 1930, however, with the Olympics due in two years, the stadium was extended upward to seventy-nine rows with two tiers of tunnels, expanding the seating to 101,574.
The now-signature torch was added.
For a time it was known as Olympic Stadium.
The Olympic cauldron torch which burned through both Games remains above the peristyle at the east end of the stadium as a reminder of this, as do the Olympic rings symbols over one of the main entrances.



Just one day before the start of the London 2012 Games the organisers realised that the sight lines in the Aquatic Centre were so poor that many who had bought tickets would be given refunds because they would not be able to properly view the events !
So much for so-called modern architecture !