In the Ancient Olympics, athletes performed naked. - FactzPedia

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In the Ancient Olympics, athletes performed naked.

In the Ancient Olympics, athletes performed naked.
The games were dedicated to [the god] Zeus. There were athletic games all over Greece, but because of the sanctity of Zeus, the Olympics quickly became revered. The first games had just a single foot race, which was won by the cook Koroibos.

How did the athletes prepare themselves for the Games?

They had to appear at the [nearby] city of Elis a month before the games. This was the first Olympic village. There, they had to submit to a grueling training regime designed to weed out those who weren't up to Olympic standards.

While there was no shame in dropping out before the games, athletes who dropped out during the actual games were humiliated. There is a story of one huge wrestler showing up for training. As soon as he took his clothes off, all the other athletes dropped out because they all knew they couldn't beat this guy.

Were the athletes on any special diets?

Some of the dietary fads in antiquity were probably no more logical than what we see today. The traditional diets were very simple: olives, bread, feta cheese, and a reasonable amount of meat. But one wrestler went on an all-fig diet. Doctors would tell athletes they shouldn't eat pork that had been raised on certain berries.

There were a lot of performance-enhancing potions floating around. Lizard's flesh, eaten a certain way, for example, became magic.

Why did the athletes compete in the nude?

The truth is that no one knows. According to one story, it began when a runner lost his loincloth and tripped on it. Everyone took off his loincloth after that. But ancient historians have traced it back to initiation rites—young men walking around naked and sort of entering manhood.

We know how fundamental nudity was to Greek culture. It really appealed to the exhibitionism and the vanity of the Greeks. Only barbarians were afraid to show their bodies. The nude athletes would parade like peacocks up and down the stadium. Poets would write in a shaky hand these wonderful odes to the bodies of the young men, their skin the color of fired clay.

But other cultures, like the Persians and the Egyptians, looked at these Greek men oiling one another down and writhing in the mud, and found it very strange. They believed it promoted sexual degeneracy.

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