Written by Brandon Eddinger ’19
Throughout the Greece study abroad trip, we visited various stadiums from Nemea, Olympia, and Delphi all of which were empowering as the grandeur of these stadiums were still felt to this day. All three stadiums had a lot of similar details like the starting blocks (which consist of large marble or limestone slabs that have two-foot holes in it), a judge’s stand, a large gymnasium nearby, and much more. These stadiums are massive and are well preserved.
The stadium of Delphi, which is overgrown with grass, still has a magnificent stadium surrounding it. Nemea, Olympia, and Delphi stadiums definitely brought back some memories of my days in track and field. An important detail is that they were not all the same size which made them all unique. The stadiums also varied with stadium seating and some with the original hill, which is also great to see. The tunnels leading to the stadiums were large in size and one can tell the feeling the athletes would receive before entering the arena. If the stadium did not come accompanied by a tunnel, the walk was surrounded by beautiful architecture. One could definitely feel the power of the games while on the field.
I feel as a group we learned great information about rituals, rules, and events. Overall, these locations were some of the best places we visited, as there was so much historical information we learned, including the variations between all the different games.
From my experience in this class, I learned that rituals are very important to the ancients. The ritual of the bull was interesting compared to others, as it dealt with a specific mass sacrifice of an animal for a festival. There were differences in various tracks, such as the starting blocks, size, and winnings, which could be items such as the celery and olive branch crowns. The rules and regulations of the games differ from the modern Olympics, which is intriguing as they were more strict on form and rules than the present. This also sparks a question: If an athlete competed in the games between two locations, how would that athlete handle the differences? If one was to compete in the ancient Olympic games in Olympia and then went to compete in the games in Nemea or Delphi, would they be accepted or would the athlete not be allowed to compete?
Lastly, learning that women had their own games in a time when women’s roles were limited, was also interesting because in all of our class talks women had little influence whether it be as a hero or a god. These sites were a great change in the style of learning we typically received in a traditional classroom, but these sites, due to the magnificence of these stadiums, definitely made learning the information more appealing. I, for one, enjoy track and field so this experience