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Author Topic: The Modern Olympics  (Read 12243 times)
Melamphoros
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« Topic Start: August 02, 2008, 10:40:56 pm »

This thread was obviously inspired by recent talk about the Beijing Olympics.

Political debates aside, what is your opinion on the modern Olympics.  Since it is now secularized, do they still have any religious value to modern Hellenic Pagans?

If there is no religious value, then is there any cultural value?  By that I mean "is connected to the ancient religion" and not "because it's connected into modern culture."

Do you think that the original meaning of the Olympics are lost on most people?
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« Reply #1: August 03, 2008, 01:50:07 am »

This thread was obviously inspired by recent talk about the Beijing Olympics.

Political debates aside, what is your opinion on the modern Olympics.  Since it is now secularized, do they still have any religious value to modern Hellenic Pagans?

If there is no religious value, then is there any cultural value?  By that I mean "is connected to the ancient religion" and not "because it's connected into modern culture."

Do you think that the original meaning of the Olympics are lost on most people?

Not a hellenic, but... yes, I do think the original meaning is lost on most people.  Partially because they don't know, and partially because most wouldn't really care if they did know.  The rest of your questions would have to be answered by someone in the religion.
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« Reply #2: August 03, 2008, 08:57:59 am »

This thread was obviously inspired by recent talk about the Beijing Olympics.

Political debates aside, what is your opinion on the modern Olympics.  Since it is now secularized, do they still have any religious value to modern Hellenic Pagans?

If there is no religious value, then is there any cultural value?  By that I mean "is connected to the ancient religion" and not "because it's connected into modern culture."

Do you think that the original meaning of the Olympics are lost on most people?


I think it pleases the Gods whenever we mortals strive for athletic excellence. Nothing embodies the Delphic Maxim, "Acheive your limit", better than Olympic athletes.

I believe that the perceived value of the Games, even among Hellenic Pagans, is quite possibly less than the true value.
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« Reply #3: August 03, 2008, 09:02:15 am »

I think it pleases the Gods whenever we mortals strive for athletic excellence.

Probably so, but I don't think the modern Olympic games are the religious event the ancient ones were -- nor could they be. The ancient games were held within one culture and religion. The modern games cross all cultural and religious lines.

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I believe that the perceived value of the Games, even among Hellenic Pagans, is quite possibly less than the true value.

In what way?
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« Reply #4: August 03, 2008, 09:12:13 am »

Probably so, but I don't think the modern Olympic games are the religious event the ancient ones were -- nor could they be. The ancient games were held within one culture and religion. The modern games cross all cultural and religious lines.


Our Gods and Goddesses are not so small, that They ignore the actions of non-worshippers. Striving for athletic excellence pleases Them, even if the striving is done by mortals who deny the Gods' very existence. I see the multi-cultural context of the Games as irrelevant to the issue of whether the Games are pleasing to the Deathless Ones.

It's worth noting that I think the World Cup, another multi-cultural sporting event, probably pleases Them just as much.
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« Reply #5: August 03, 2008, 09:13:30 am »

Our Gods and Goddesses are not so small, that They ignore the actions of non-worshippers. Striving for athletic excellence pleases Them, even if the striving is done by mortals who deny the Gods' very existence. I see the multi-cultural context of the Games as irrrelevant to the issue of whether the Games are pleasing to the Deathless Ones.

You are looking at it differently than I do, but I do see where you are coming from now.
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« Reply #6: August 03, 2008, 10:58:06 am »

Nothing embodies the Delphic Maxim, "Acheive your limit", better than Olympic athletes.

I'm approaching this as an Eclectic (who is trying to be very serious about his eclecticism), NOT a Hellenic pagan, but I'm very curious as to why no other discipline would embody this maxim as well as Olympic Athletes?

I need to do more study into Hellenic paganism (right now, my only real grounding is the mythology I read as a child, coupled with Homer and a few Greek playwrights), but I thought the Hellenic gods all had different things they found pleasing, so while some might find athletic prowess to be the most pleasing, others might find art, literature, or science more pleasing.

If I am a musician who practices (trains) every day in order to reach virtuoso-level talent, am I not "achieving my limit"?

If I am a writer who challenges my very soul to write the best fiction/non-fiction/philosophy/theology that I can, am I not "achieving my limit"?

If I am an artist/sculptor who creates beautiful works of art, am I not "achieving my limit"?

If I am a professor who goes above and beyond what curriculum or state standards expect of me to ensure my students receive the best education possible, and as a result, more of my students graduate on the Dean's List than any other class, is reaching this "limit" somehow less valuable than someone running in fast circles on a clay track?

If I am an inventor constantly pushing my creativity to bring newer, better technologies to the world, is my "limit" somehow inferior to that of an individual who can make a long-distance jump?

If I am a clinical researcher working daily to discover cures for diseases thought incurable, and if I DISCOVER one or more of these cures, is my "limit" of less value than someone who can throw a javelin?  (George W Bush might think so, in the metaphorical sense that throwing a javelin equates to being a good warrior, but I wouldn't have thought the Hellenic gods would agree).


Please understand, I'm not attacking you, but I'm very interested to hear why, from a Hellenic perspective, the actions I listed are not as valuable as being an Olympic athlete (or why, from a Hellenic perspective, they're just as valuable or more valuable).
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« Reply #7: August 03, 2008, 11:09:58 am »

I'm approaching this as an Eclectic (who is trying to be very serious about his eclecticism), NOT a Hellenic pagan, but I'm very curious as to why no other discipline would embody this maxim as well as Olympic Athletes?
Not Aetius here, but he said nothing embodies the maxim better.  There can be any number of things that embody it as well

In athletics, especially in sports that don't have a prominent world championship of their own, the Olympics are the standard for excellence.

Plus - someone please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm new at this - athletic competitions appear to have been a favorite way to honor many of the Greek gods, not just the ones one would associate with sport.  The Greeks were really big on physical fitness.
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« Reply #8: August 03, 2008, 11:21:41 am »

Not Aetius here, but he said nothing embodies the maxim better.  There can be any number of things that embody it as well

Good qualification there, and I agree (although my very prejudiced mind says that somebody running around on a clay track does not deserve the same praise as someone who just cured cancer).  I tend to read something like "Nothing embodies 'x' better" as meaning not so much that there are other things that are just as good, but that this particular thing is the best embodiment of 'x'.  If I misread Aetius's intent, I apologize. Smiley
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« Reply #9: August 03, 2008, 01:04:50 pm »

Good qualification there, and I agree (although my very prejudiced mind says that somebody running around on a clay track does not deserve the same praise as someone who just cured cancer).  I tend to read something like "Nothing embodies 'x' better" as meaning not so much that there are other things that are just as good, but that this particular thing is the best embodiment of 'x'.  If I misread Aetius's intent, I apologize. Smiley

To tell the truth, I interpreted his statement the same way.  I think from the perspective of the ancient Greeks, athletics may have been slightly more important.  Even though ancient Greece is known for its art, architecture, literature and philosophy, such things would have been unimportant to your average Greek.

That said, I tend to place creativity and knowledge at a higher value than athletics.
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« Reply #10: August 03, 2008, 01:11:45 pm »

That said, I tend to place creativity and knowledge at a higher value than athletics.

I guess, being writers, we're both prejudiced Grin
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« Reply #11: August 03, 2008, 05:47:15 pm »

I guess, being writers, we're both prejudiced Grin


Honest to Zeus, I really didn't mean to imply that writing an award-winning play wouldn't please Dionysos just as much as winning a marathon would please Herakles.

I really believe that most of the Theoi value athletic prowess in humans, as our bodies truly are temples in their own special way. Physical fitness is a way to show respect for the gift of our fragile, mortal existence.

The Gods and Goddesses just appreciate many other things, which relate to Their often-overlapping spheres of influence.

P.S. Thank you Thorn, for offering clarification.
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« Reply #12: August 03, 2008, 05:58:51 pm »

I really believe that most of the Theoi value athletic prowess in humans, as our bodies truly are temples in their own special way. Physical fitness is a way to show respect for the gift of our fragile, mortal existence.

That makes sense. Smiley  Unfortunately, humans like me don't value that athletic prowess nearly as much, even though I could certainly stand to value it a bit more.

This is more of a historical question than a religious question, but do you think part of the reason athletic prowess was valued so much was because runners were frequently used to carry important messages, so having the fastest runners meant having the most reliable messengers?
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« Reply #13: August 03, 2008, 06:07:12 pm »

That makes sense. Smiley  Unfortunately, humans like me don't value that athletic prowess nearly as much, even though I could certainly stand to value it a bit more.

I'm beginning to notice that you and I are a lot alike. Smiley  Although, recently I have tried to exercise more.

Quote
This is more of a historical question than a religious question, but do you think part of the reason athletic prowess was valued so much was because runners were frequently used to carry important messages, so having the fastest runners meant having the most reliable messengers?

Not Aetius, but I think that may be a reasonable conclusion.  The Marathon was created to honor such a runner, after all.

And of course, the javelin throw originated in warfare for another example of how these events were practical outside the games.

(not to mention archery and chariot races)
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« Reply #14: August 03, 2008, 06:12:12 pm »

I'm beginning to notice that you and I are a lot alike. Smiley  Although, recently I have tried to exercise more.

I've been noticing this, too Grin

Quote
(not to mention archery and chariot races)

And wrestling, which would also be a fairly useful martial skill.
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