The incipit of a piece in the Daily Eastern News … I’m willing to bet this is the first time this semi-obscure festival has made it into the popular press:
The ancient Greeks valued two things in their citizens: intelligence and strength.
As a result, ancient Greek sports reinforced those values and formed games as means of creating ways for creating excellence.
Tim Shonk, an associate professor of English who teaches Greek and Roman mythology, said ancient Greek games were sometimes derived from traditions established in history.
“The marathon segment of the modern Olympics, of course, derives from the lengthy trip made by the runner Pheippedes heading to Sparta to ask for help for the Athenians who were trying to fight off the invading Persians,” Shonk said.
Other games were created to celebrate ritual observations of key figures in Greek history and mythology. Shonk used the story of Hyacinthus and the Hyacinthia games.
“Named after Hyacinthus, a young boy beloved by Apollo, but accidentally killed by a discus thrown by Apollo, the festival in honor of this young man featured three days of observation, all marked by a different tone,” Shonk said.
The first day of the games was for mourning. The second was for prayer rituals, sacrifices to the gods, etc. The third day marked the reinvigoration as a symbol of rebirth.
This day was when the games, which were usually fast-paced and high-energy, were played.
Ties to Greek life at Eastern
Shonk said that the parallel between ancient Greek games and the Greek Week games at Eastern is that they are a springtime celebration in the pursuit of glory. There are many differences, though.
The ancient Greek competed against each other in events such as boxing, chariot racing, wrestling, running and javelin and discus throwing. The Greek Week events include Tugs, Baseball, Airband and Greek Sing.