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Ancient Greek Athletics of Pentathlon - Essay Example

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Ancient Greek Athletics of Pentathlon

As the Greek term pentathlon suggests, in the Ancient Greek pentathlon, athletes competed in five items which included a wrestling competition, a sprint item or a race the length of the stadium, long jump, discus throw, and javelin throw. Some significant questions arise in this background. Why were there no individual events for discus, javelin and long jump in the ancient Olympics Why were these events limited to the combined pentathlon event The answers to these questions lead one to the ultimate conclusion that the different items of the pentathlon were not just some sports events, but rather they are very distinctly linked to the social and cultural systems of the Greeks which gave primary importance to the development and the progress of the citizens. All these competition items were opportunity for the Greek valiant men for expression of their sheer quality. This Ancient Greek athletics were very much part of the Greek tradition and through the epic tradition of the Greeks one can find examples of their pertinent importance in their culture. The real importance of these athletic competitions may be measured on the basis of the question of prestige and the glorification of the athletes in the pentathlon. To the mighty Greeks, who was the prime most race of the world in their age, pentathlon presented with an opportunity to express their greatness as a prestigious groups or a particularly important people. It may be argued that while these competitions provided the Greeks with an opportunity to achieve personal glory and might in a culture which ranked excellence of physical strength and valor, there has been greater value to these athletic items in the preservation of the state's interest which is, of course, the well being and advancement of the citizens who are benefited from the physical effort they invest in pentathlon. However, the more significant value of the pentathlon was that the events aimed at the overall progress of the Greeks contributing to its rich cultural and social systems.
Pentathlon consists of five items - Discuss (Diskos), Javelin (Halma), Long Jump (Akon), Running (Stadion) and Wrestling (Pale). These items were linked to the progress of the individual and they are related with the social and cultural systems which emphasized the glorification of individuals in every sphere. Thus, the events were performed together rather than individually. "The Olympic games were not proving grounds for real combat The games were more symbolic, religious, and entertaining. Unlike hoplite, team-style warfare, the ancient Olympics were individual sports which allowed an individual Greek to win glory." (Gill). There are myths about the pentathlon which establish Jason, the leader of the Argonauts, as the originator of pentathlon. In the year 708 BCE, pentathlon became an Olympic event. It was in the 18th Olympiad that the pentathlon was introduced.
The events in pentathlon ensured the developments of the chief skills of the individual which make one national hero and the example of Odysseus who was successful in every event in the pentathlon proves this social as well as cultural focus of the pentathlon. The role of pentathlon in arousing the national pride and prestige of the Greeks has its testimonies in the epics of the Greeks. Thus, in the Homer's Odyssey, one finds evidence of pentathlon ...Show more


Ancient Greek cultural and social systems are intrinsically connected to the real life activities of the people and every particular event or celebration had its base in the progress of the citizen. It is imperative to understand the Ancient Olympics the different items in it etc in the background of the cultural and social systems of the Ancient Greeks…
Author : bbernhard
Ancient Greek Athletics of Pentathlon essay example
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