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Highlights of Ancient Greek History: 800 BCE to 700 BCE

From the epic poems of Homer to the first Olympic games, a great deal of change took place in ancient Greece between 800 BCE and 500 BCE. In this article, you will learn about the ins and outs of the infamous athletic competition and of the contributions of Greek oral poet, Hesiod.

800 to 500 BCE: The “Archaic Period” is observed in ancient Greece.

During the 18th century, people studying ancient Greek art started to refer to the examples that come from between the Geometric Art and Classical period art as “archaic.” The term is also used to refer to art and other cultural aspects that were lost during the Dark Ages.

776 BCE: The first Olympic games take place , following in the ways of tradition.

The first Olympic games were said to have started in the city of Olympia. During the competitions, a truce was enacted so that athletes could travel from their countries to the Games without any hassles.

The Games not only served as entertainment, but were also used in the political arena. City-states would use the competition to prove their dominance over their rivals. The Games was also a place where politicians would announce their alliances. In times of war, priests offered sacrifices to the gods in an attempt to bring a victory. The Games also allowed the spread of Hellenistic culture throughout the Mediterranean to take place.

Athletes weren’t the only main attractions at the Games, as religious celebrations and artistic competitions were also featured. As for the athletic competitions, the events different from what we see today. There weren’t as many events held as there is at the present-day Olympic Games. Only free men who spoke Greek were allowed to compete in the Games. At one time, there was a woman named Bilistiche who was named a winner. If an athlete met the entrance criteria, it didn’t matter the country or city-state that he resided, he was allowed to participate. The Games were always held in Olympia. The winners of events were given olive wreaths or crowns.

700 BCE: Homer’s epic poems are first put to writing.

The ancient Greek epic poet penned the infamous poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. He is also responsible for writing the Homeric Hymns and other notable literary works. Homer’s writing was an intense influence on the type of literature that emerged during ancient Greek days.

~ 700 BCE: Hesiod writes “Theogony”, “Works and Days”, as well as other poems.

Along with Homer, Hesiod was a Greek oral poet thought to be the earliest Greek poets whose work was fortunate enough to survive over the years. Oftentimes, the two are paired together. There is some debate as to which of the poets lived first. Hesiod’s writing provides valuable insight regarding Greek myths, farming techniques, old Greek astronomy views, ancient time-keeping, and early thoughts about the economy.