Victor's Crown (Hardback)
A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium
With the London Olympics drawing nearer, sport and its place in society are very much in the news at the moment. This engaging study takes a look at the role of sport in the ancient world. It begins by looking at the emergence of competitive sport in Greece in the archaic period, before moving on to the original Olympic Games, the disciplines in which athletes competed and the conditions for the participants and spectators. Many of the features of the ancient Olympics look familar today - the competitors with their entourages, the huge crowds baking in the sun, the inevitable politicisation of the event - but some things have, mercifully, changed. One participant in the pancration , a combination of boxing and wrestling, managed to win his bout when his opponent conceded, but before he could receive his prize died of a broken neck. Potter then moves from Greece to Rome and considers gladiatorial and circus games. He quotes ancient accounts that evoke what it was like to be a spectator, juxtaposing the aloofness of Pliny the Younger with the wild enthusiasm many fans felt for their favourite chariot teams. A memorable introduction to a fascinating subject.