Spectator View - Ancient Olympic Stadium Events

Spectator View - Ancient Olympic Stadium Events Famous Historical Events Social Studies Sports Ancient Places and/or Civilizations

The ruins of the running track, the stadion, are very close to the center of the town of Olympia.  Around 3,000 people currently live in the town which gave a name to world-famous games.

Today, the area is still rural just like it was during ancient times.  The same river - the Alpheus - flows through the pastoral setting.  Mountains still rise in the distance.

Yet, much has changed:

  • No one, anymore, believes that the track’s length of 210 yards was actually stacked-out by Hercules himself.
  • World-class runners no longer remove their shoes, to run barefooted, curling their toes into the groves of the stadion’s marble start line.
  • Sprinters no-longer stand upright, leaning slightly forward with their feet together and their arms outstretched, held back by a chest-high rope which serves as a starting gate.
  • Runners are no-longer threatened with a thrashing, from official whip bearers, if they make a false start.
  • Athletes no-longer face an all-or-nothing result since races today include more than just a prize for the winner.

Who were the spectators watching the Ancient Olympics - and - where did they live?  How did they travel to Olympia?

The Stadion - the root word of which means a place to stand - would have been filled with people crowded along the green embankments which still surround the running track today.  Most of the spectators were men, although unmarried women and girls could also watch.  Married women, however, were not allowed.

Olympia was not easy to reach from Athens, in those ancient days.  The idea of modern roads did not exist, so many people spent ten days traveling through mountains.

International travelers, from as far-away as Spain and areas along the Black Sea, risked shipwrecks and bad weather during the hot summer months as they journeyed to Olympia.

Arriving at their destination, travelers and locals alike were greeted by ... flies.  There must have been plagues of flies since history tells us that priests would offer sacrifices, at the start of the games, to “Zeus the Averter of Flies.”

This image depicts the viewpoint spectators would have had as they watched Olympic athletes compete for the highly coveted prize: an olive-wreath crown fashioned from a sacred Olympian tree.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Nov 27, 2016

Media Credits

Image online via Wikimedia Commons.



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"Spectator View - Ancient Olympic Stadium Events" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Oct 20, 2018.
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