Sports And Warfare In The Iliad

1874 Words 8 Pages
While there are several general theories that suggest why Greek sport developed as it did, the evidence provided in Book 23 of the Iliad strongly suggests sport in Ancient Greece developed due to warfare. The similarities between sport and warfare are most apparent in the common values associated with each, the necessity of divine support to succeed, and finally the Ancient Greeks’ view of contest. Through the examination of these three aspects of sport and warfare, the similarities that arise are far too numerous to be pure coincidence, and would, therefore, infer that sport originated as a less lethal form of competition between city-states. Upon initial observation of athletes and soldiers, it is apparent that both parties share many of …show more content…
From book 23 of the Iliad sport at that point, and likely since creation was much more interconnected. In the Iliad, it was a coincidence that the sports competitor were also soldiers, but Classical Greeks also believed that sportsmen and soldiers faced comparable toils and dangers despite their varied careers. The Iliad presents a very theatrical display of war, but historical evidence suggests that hoplite armies engaged in athletic exercise and competition on the campaign; Spartan law even required it . Secondly, the connection between these careers and the expectation put in place by societal norms further demonstrate that warfare assisted in developing Greek Sport. Within the Iliad it was there are clear favors within the sports competition. Despite much of the contenders being soldiers and aristocrats, it was still possible the society to clearly present the supposed winner such as during the chariot races when Eumelus was described as “lord of men, the dear son of Admetus, a man supreme in horsemanship . While this is a very theatrical performance, it dictates how Ancient Greeks would have viewed the connection between war and sport, by connecting the successes of a warrior horseman to the assumed …show more content…
The factors of competition can be compared based on the historical actions of early polis military, the theatrical presentation, and the eventual evolution of warfare. Firstly, it is necessary to understand how Classic Greeks viewed competition or agōn, and its effect upon military action in the early polis. As the Classical Greeks conception of athletic competition and battle shared a common set of words and concepts as both were considered agōnes (contests) . When an individual considers a sport, they typically think of a contest between two parties in which conventional rules are followed and reinforced by referees, while tactics and strength are used to overcome the opponent. As stated above hoplite civilian armies were often used to solve disagreements between city states but “Greek warfare in archaic and classical periods above all, were conventional, with inviolate heralds, truces for recovery of the dead and equipment, and tactics standard enough to pass for rules of a game” . While we can view some aspects of the Iliad as archaic in their methods of warfare, the overall war was determined as a war of elimination, better suited for the theater or the later periods of Ancient Greece. We strongly see these characteristics of sport within the competition organized and refereed by Achilles during Book 23. Secondly, the theatrical

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