Form and Content

Olympic Games in Ancient Greece presents a colorful account of how the ancient Greeks played the Olympic Games. Each chapter describes one day in this five-day festival, beginning with the day-long opening ceremonies, proceeding through three days devoted to various sporting events, and concluding with the Victory Banquet on the last day. Shirley Glubok and Alfred Tamarin give an almost hour-by-hour account of the festivities and sporting events, giving the reader the feeling of having personally witnessed an ancient Olympiad. Brief but evocative details of the typical sights, sounds, and smells of the festival add to the impression of immediacy. Although the emphasis is on a “typical, ideal” Greek Olympiad of the fifth century b.c., information about the history of the games and anecdotes about famous athletes from different time periods are incorporated into the narrative so that the reader has a sense of how the festival evolved over time. Black-and-white photographs of ancient pottery and statuary depicting Olympic athletes provide a visual extension to the authors’ description of most of the sports. A note on the modern Olympics, a list of important dates, and an index conclude the book.

A procession of judges, games officials, trumpeters, athletes, and their trainers initiated the Olympiad on its first day. The marchers would start in Elis and proceed thirty-four miles to Olympia. Travelers from...

(The entire section is 584 words.)