Olympic Games in Ancient Greece Critical Essays

Alfred Tamarin


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The subject matter of Olympic Games in Ancient Greece presents a formidable challenge to the writer of nonfiction for young readers. The history of the games spans a thousand years and enfolds the politics, art, and religion of a large empire. Although many of the sports of ancient Greece have modern-day analogues, the cultural context surrounding those sports is vastly different from the experiences of a modern reader. In order to participate imaginatively in an ancient Olympiad, the reader must be made to understand the significance of the Olympic Games in ancient Greek culture. Glubok and Tamarin have addressed this challenge in part through the device of structure: The book is divided into five main parts, each describing one day of an ideal Greek Olympiad. The focus of each section is on the sports played on that day. This way of organizing the text provides a concrete and easy-to-understand overview of the information. It also allows the authors to create a sense of immediacy, as they note the bright colors of the chariots, the bitter smell of burning sacrifices, and the glistening sun reflected on hundreds of eager faces. Readers feel that they are witnessing the events of the festival as they happen.

The authors convey the historical and cultural context of the ancient world with ingenuity. Information about religious beliefs and historical events that affected the development and execution of the games is imparted through lively...

(The entire section is 549 words.)