Ancient Greek Olympics: The Pentathlon II

The ancient Greek Olympics faced opposition that came from changes in history. With the influence of Rome and changing attitudes towards what the games represented threatened the competitions that had become such an important part of the culture. However, a renewed interest in the games took place after they had been banned for quite some time. This article focuses on the fall and revinal of the Olympics.


The ancient Greek pentathlon also included wresting, where the two leading competitors from the previous events would battle one another for top honors. The wrestlers of ancient Greece would resort to different tactics to win a match. It was not beneath them to twist a finger, shove or choke their opponent. The winner was the athlete to first bring his opponent down with three separate clean throws.

Scoring of the Pentathlon

There is debate over scoring of the pentathlon. The most popular theory is that athletes were eliminated someone with the progression of events until they reached the final wrestling match. At the Olympian Games, winners took home a wreath made out of wild olive. When they returned to their hometowns, they were treated like royalty. Statues were often erected in their honor. The athletes also received monetary compensation. It is recorded that Athens gave their Olympian winners a sum equivalent to $300,000 during the early 6th century BC. It was also not uncommon for some athletes to have odes written in their honor. For example, Pindar wrote a great deal of odes regarding the victories of chariot racers.

Lessened Interest in Games

When Rome became a larger part of Greek life due to a conquest in 146 BC, the games at Olympia and across Greece soon faded. The empire started to embrace Rome as the center of athletic competition. The Olympian Games were not banished altogether. Athletes continued to participate, but once again, they faced opposition. An increase in Christian influence on the government influenced Emperor Theodosius I to abolish the games , dismissing them as pagan practices. This act took place in 393 AD.

A Revival of Olympic Games

A renewed interest in the Olympic Games took place when Athens led the way in 1896. A new policy to hold the games every four years in different locations around the world was also implemented. The only times that the games had been suspended was in times of war , in 1916, 1940, and 1944. Interestingly, ancient Greece dealt with war during a scheduled Olympics in a different manner. Instead, fighting was suspended when the games were expected to be held.

Over the years, many changes have been made in regards to the Olympics. For starters, the pentathlon would no longer include wrestling. A range of new and different sports was added to the event list. The Olympics were also held in both the winter and summer seasons in different years with a collection of seasonal events.