Why is the Olympics called the Olympics?

Zeus Greek God


It's that time again. Every four years, every top athlete, in every country, comes together in the worldwide competition known as the Olympics.

This year, it's being held at Beijing in China. Then, in 2012, it's being held here in our Capital that is London! To hold the Olympics in 2012 in London, is going to cost over 10 billion pounds!!!

But do you know where the Olympics originated from? If not, here is a little background information into how it all began thousands and thousands of years ago...

Once every four years, men from all over Greece came to compete in a great athletic festival in Elis, in western Greece (Women were not allowed to compete back then because they weren't seen to be as fit as men!). This was named the Olympic games because the place where it was held was called Olympia.

It was a religious festival to honor the Greek gods Zeus and Hera. We don't know when men first began celebrating the Olympic Games, but they were certainly already doing it in the time of Homer (NOT Homer Simpson!), by 776 BC, so a very very long time ago.

They were celebrated from then on, every four years without fail, until people converted to Christianity and the Roman Emperor Theodosius banned the games in 393 AD.

When it was time for the games, the rulers of Elis sent out messengers all over Greece and to the Greek colonies around the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. They declared a truce throughout the Greek world for a month. No matter who you had a war with, you had to stop the war and let their athletes and performers go through your city-state safely to get to the Olympic Games. Each city-state paid for a few athletes from their city to travel to Elis.

But if you had ever been a slave, or if you had ever done anything against the gods, then you couldn't be in the Olympics. And, the men had to swear that they had already trained for at least ten months. This meant that only men who were pretty rich could be in the Games, so they could afford to take so long off work, and also pay a trainer.