In ancient Greece, the Olympics would be over by now

Though far more culturally important to the Greek world than the modern Olympics, the ancient games took place over the course of just five days. Below is a reconstruction of the ancient Olympic program, taken from Tony Perrottet’s The Naked Olympics:

The Ancient Greek Olympic Program

The original format of the ancient Olympics was such a success that it hardly changed after its main contours were established around 470 B.C. There were a few ill-fated experiments, but by and large the schedule remained consistent, a beacon of Greek tradition in a world transformed by conquests, plagues, exotic religions, and grasping empires. Historians still argue about the details, but a consensus has emerged on the basic schedule of the five-day program:

Day One


  • Opening ceremonies: Swearing-in of athletes, trainers, and Olympic judges before a statue of Zeus wielding a thunderbolt.
  • Contests for heralds and trumpeters in the Echo Colonnade.
  • Athletes make their private sacrifices to the gods at one of the site’s altars and consult oracles.


  • Free time for art lovers to explore Sacred Grove of Zeus, one of Greece’s most spectacular collections of statuary and paintings.
  • Literary events: Poets recite their works, philosophers expound, historians present new work.
  • Less edifying pursuits available at the carnival-style festival fringe.

Day Two


  • Equestrian events: Chariot and horse races in the Hippodrome. The popular four-horse chariot race, or tethrippon, opens the celebration, followed by bareback racp. In 408 B.C., a two-horse chariot race is added, followed in latef years by a four-colt chariot race (384 B.C.), a two-colt chariot race (268 B.C.), and bareback races for colts (256 B.C.).


  • Pentathlon in the Stadium

Posted by | Comments (4)  | August 19, 2004
Category: Travel Writing

4 Responses to “In ancient Greece, the Olympics would be over by now”

  1. Mike Alton Says:

    this website gives good information. JK

  2. taylor kostiuk Says:

    hey this is good info for school reports thanx.

  3. Neeta Says:

    Its not the ebst web site for kids learning about the greek plympics and not been able to complete a project and i am 11

  4. harriet Says:

    good site learned alot. Thanx for the info.