Nemea 2004

If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the Olympic hoopla, might I suggest the Nemean games?

The Judges of The Games

“The ancient Greeks celebrated festivals at Nemea that were part of the cycle of games at Delphi, Isthmia, and (best known today) Olympia. At each one of these four sites in rotation, for a brief period each year, wars and hostilities were suspended by a sacred truce, and all Greeks ? Spartans and Athenians, Corinthians and Argives, Macedonians, and Cretans ? gathered in recognition of their common humanity. This impulse toward peace ? albeit limited to a few days each year ? was the first in the history of an organized, regular, and international scale. Thus, the ancient festivals at Nemea, Olympia, Delphi, and Isthmia are the direct ancestors of today’s Olympic games as well as of the United Nations.”Ancient Nemea Homepage

This revival of an ancient pagan custom has been getting quite a bit of press (though they all seem to be concerned about nudity).

“Although the athletes did not run naked, they did wear the traditional tunics of the ancient Greeks and smeared themselves in olive oil before running.”BBC

“The ancient athletes competed naked,” said Stephen Miller of the University of California at Berkeley, who has directed the Nemea archaeological digs since 1974. “That’s one aspect we’ll just have to leave to the past.”SFGate

“For a start, we wear clothes ? if that?s what you can call Lycra leotards ? when the ancient Greeks competed in the nude. That, at least, is how the athletes are almost always depicted on the many vases which illustrate Olympic contests, and naked was how the patron of the original Games, Olympian Zeus, liked to be.”Sunday Herald

Has anyone ever decided to follow the traditional dress code? “Not yet,” Miller said. “I keep wanting to, but my native cowardice always interferes at the last moment. I guess I shall never fully experience the 4th century B.C.”SF Chronicle

In any case, I approve of the attempts to bring the original spirit back to the games. I wonder though if they gave offerings to the gods?

Jason Pitzl-Waters