Frequently Asked Questions about the Ancient Olympic Games
- Where did the Olympic games come from?
- Why were they held at Olympia?
- Were there other contests like the Olympics?
- Who could compete in the Olympics?
- Were women allowed at the Olympics?
- How were the athletes trained?
- What prizes did Olympic victors get?
- Who were the Olympic judges?
- What was the penalty for cheating?
- Where did the marathon come from?
- When did the ancient games begin and when did they end?
Who were the Olympic judges?
Olympia,Stadium: Officials' seats on S side of stadium from NW
Photograph courtesy of Frederick Hemans
Unlike the modern Olympics, judges did not come from all over the Greek world, but were drawn from Elis, the local region which included Olympia. The number of judges increased to 10 as more events were added to the Olympics.
Even though the judges were all Eleans, local Elean Greeks were still allowed to compete in the Olympics. The Elean people had such a reputation for fairness that an Elean cheating at the Games was a shock to other Greeks.
Side B: two boxers, official, and Olympias
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of Harvard University Art Museums
|"It is a wonder in any case if a man has so little respect for the god of Olympia as to take or give a bribe
in the contests; it is an even greater wonder that one of the Eleans themselves has fallen so low. But it is said
that the Elean Damonicus did so fall at the hundred and ninety second Festival. They say that collusion
occurred between Polyctor the son of Damonicus and Sosander of Smyrna, of the same name as his father;
these were competitors for the wrestling prize of wild-olive. Damonicus, it is alleged, being exceedingly
ambitious that his son should win, bribed the father of Sosander. When the transaction became known, the umpires imposed a fine, but instead of imposing it on the
sons they directed their anger against the fathers, for that they were the real sinners." (Pausanias 5.21.16ff)|
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