Book Club

Icon

Publishers of award-winning illustrated books on art, history, archaeology, world cultures and more.

The Ancient Olympic Games

With exactly one year to go until the London 2012 Olympics begin, advances of our forthcoming title The Ancient Olympic Games have arrived!

Ancient olympic games

Written by Judith Swaddling, with a preface by HRH The Princess Royal, this vividly illustrated title takes the reader right back to the origins of the Games: to Olympia, where people from all over the classical world flocked to attend the sacred ceremonies, celebrations and sporting competitions that were a part of the Ancient Olympic Games.

While the book highlights many differences between the ancient Games and the modern day Olympics we’ve also found out some surprising similarities. For example, the ancient Greeks spent virtually all of the year before building up to the games, with site preparations to rival the Olympic village and rigorous training schedules for all the competitors.

This quote from Epictetus’ Discourses, written in the 1st century AD, will surely resonate with all the athletes preparing to compete this time next year:

You say ‘I want to win at Olympia’. But wait. Look at what is involved… You will have to obey instructions, keep away from desserts, eat only at set hours; in both heat and cold you must not drink cold water, nor can you have a drink of wine whenever you want. You must hand yourself over to your coach exactly as you would to a doctor.” Discources, 15, 2-5

The Ancient Olympic Games will be available from the British Museum shop from 24 August, so why not prepare for the year ahead with a look back at the Olympics of the ancient past?