The Importance Of Leisure And Work In Ancient Times

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“Yet, it’s man’s ability to shape his environment that has set him distinctly apart from all other animals.” (Brightbill, 1960) As author Charles Brightbill illustrates, the ability for man to distinctly control his environment through work and the enjoyment of leisure separates him from all other species. Since the beginning of time, the relationship between work and leisure has been in constant flux, adapting with each new school of thought or major societal change. While the concept of leisure originated in biblical texts proclaiming the importance of rest and the need for a Sabbath, its role in society as an indicator of wealth and socioeconomic status has continued to change, often reflecting the dominant political and religious influences …show more content…
Ancient Greeks took an interest in the arts and athletics as forms of leisure. However, participation in these events was limited to the “well-born”. Farmers, tradespeople and artisans had few rights and less privilege. During the time of Ancient Greek, labor was performed by slaves and foreigners. Because of this, the Greeks had plenty of time to learn the arts, gymnastics and athletics. Women, however, were not allowed leisurely interests. (McLean & Hurd, 2011)
Greeks took tremendous interest in their towns and city centers. Cities were built around the arts and included many “parks and gardens, open-air theaters and gymnasiums, baths, exercise grounds and stadiums.” McLean and Hurd note that gardens and gymnasiums were often connected together and utilized for musical performance and practice for the Olympic games and festivals. These festivals could last over 70 days. The Olympic games were originally restricted to only free-born Greeks. However, due to corruption, the games were opened to all athletes and many athletes trained in open gymnasiums where the public could view them. (McLean & Hurd,

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