A visitor's guide to the ancient Olympics [electronic resource] /
Neil Faulkner.
New Haven : Yale University Press, 2012.
xiv, 263 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
More Details
New Haven : Yale University Press, 2012.
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
contents note
The basics -- Finding your way around -- Myths -- History -- Management -- The athletes -- The programme.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 245-251) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2012-09-01:
This book is a guide for imaginary travelers attending the Olympic games of 388 BCE. A freelance archaeologist/historian, Faulkner (fellow, Univ. of Bristol, UK) gives advice on food, medicine, travel routes, lodging, and money. He warns tourists about sexual encounters, especially the danger of venereal disease (which may not have existed then). He describes practices of prostitution that prevailed in cities like Athens, assuming they flourished in remote Olympia. He sees Greek civilization as violent and practicing "ethnic cleansing," and he suggests the Olympics served as a catharsis. Faulkner divides the Olympics into aristocratic and citizen periods but concludes that athletics in ancient Greece were always upper-class. Although he maintains that boxing was the most brutal sport, his graphic description of pancration, which combines boxing and wrestling, suggests otherwise. As a concession to emerging democratic values, athletes eventually competed without clothing. Faulkner contends that measures were then taken to prevent erections during combat sports. As these examples reveal, the author has a propensity for hyperbole and slapdash use of ancient evidence. That said, the book is well written and charming. The section on athletic competition is generally solid. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; undergraduates, if used with the above proviso. A. J. Papalas emeritus, East Carolina University
Review Quotes
" A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympicsshould appeal to a broad set of readers."N.S. Gill,
"Forget London 2012. Want to know what it was like to attend the Olympics 2,400 years ago? Then pick up a copy of Neil Faulkner's A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympics. Written in the style of a travel guide, the book tells you everything you would want to knowincluding how to get there, where to stay, and what to eatabout attending the Olympics in 388 B.C." Jason Zasky, Failure Magazine
"Walk for days and miles along treacherous roads in the heat of the summer. Fight crowds of thousands for a place to camp. Search for water. And, by all means, try to steer clear of the fetid trash and waste that breed disease all around you. (Read: no trash cans and no toilets.). These are the conditions described in archaeologist Neil Faulkner's new book A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympics, a manual for any would-be Games-goer in ancient Greece . . . Ultimately the ancient Olympics were more of an epic frat party full of booze and sex than a prestigious sporting competition, and Faulkner paints that picture well."Moira E. McLaughlin, The Washington Post
This item was reviewed in:
Washington Post, June 2012
Choice, September 2012
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Main Description
What was it like to attend the Olympics in 388 B.C.' Would the experience resemble Olympic festivals as we celebrate them today? This remarkable book transports us back to the heyday of the city-state and classical Greek civilization. It invites us to enter this distant, alien, but still familiar culture and discover what the Greeks did and didn't do during five thrilling days in August 2,400 years ago. In the Olympic Stadium there were no stands, no shadeand no women allowed. Visitors sat on a grassy bank in the searing heat of midsummer to watch naked athletes compete in footraces, the pentathlon, horse and chariot races, and three combat sportswrestling, boxing, and pankration,everyone's favorite competition, with virtually no rules and considerable blood and pain. This colorfully illustrated volume offers a complete tour of the Olympic site exactly as athletes and spectators found it. The book evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of the crowded encampment; introduces the various attendees (from champions and charlatans to aristocrats and prostitutes); and explains the numerous exotic religious rituals. Uniquely detailed and precise, this guide offers readers an unparalleled opportunity to travel in time, back to the excitement of ancient Olympia.
Bowker Data Service Summary
What was it like to attend the Olympics in 388 BC? Would the experience resemble the Olympic festivals as we celebrate them today? This book transports us back to the heyday of classical Greek civilization, inviting us to discover what the Greeks did and didn't do during five thrilling days 2400 years ago.

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