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About the book
  • Published: 2 August 2004
  • ISBN: 9780812969917
  • Imprint: Random House USA
  • Format: Paperback
  • RRP: $29.99
Categories:

The Naked Olympics


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The true story of the ancient games.

Ancient Greece was full of wonders, but none quite compared to the Olympic Games: They were the most dazzling recurring event in the pagan world, an all- consuming blend of religion and athletics, where the gods themselves took as much interest in the sports results as mortals. Held without interruption for over 1200 years, they still rank as the most alluring festival in Western history. And yet, despite the modern Olympic revival, our understanding of the ancient Greek Games is mired in sentimentality and myth.
THE NAKED OLYMPICS approaches the festival day by day, to recreate for the first time the actual experience of visiting the ultimate sporting extravaganza- from the point of view of the ancient spectators who flocked there generation after generation, the beleaguered event organizers in the religious sanctuary of Olympia, and the famous Greek athletes themselves, who competed entirely unadorned in an echo of ancient initiation rites.
By piecing together eyewitness accounts (including such little- known gems as the third century AD training manual, Handbook for a Sports Coach), the original Olympics emerge as a fascinating mix of the familiar and the wildly exotic. Ancient sports fans endured chaotic conditions reminiscent of a badly planned rock concert today, camping out under the stars and battling crowds, summer heat waves, water shortages and dehydration. Athletes faced off in such distinctive Greek events as the hoplitodromia, a sprint in full armor, and the pankration, a lethal, no- holds- barred brawl. Off the field, a round-t he- clock bacchanal included everything from raucous banquets and teams of traveling prostitutes to spectacular sacrifices to the presiding god Zeus. And by digging beneath the one- dimensional image of the Greeks, we find the first Games trapped in a more realistic mire of corruption scandals, political interference and rampant commercialism.
Along the way, THE NAKED OLYMPICS explores ancient 'gym culture'(including Plato's tips on good pick- up lines to use in the changing rooms), explains the ups and downs of a Greek work- out, visits prototype sports bars where fans could sip wine sold from the back of wagons, and presents athletics coaches who demanded that wrestlers accept death before defeat. Mixing hilarious anecdotes with vivid human details, this hugely original book brings Western civilization's most influential festival back to unforgettable life.
Contains 28 illustrations and one double page spread of Olympia.

  • Pub date: 2 August 2004
  • ISBN: 9780812969917
  • Imprint: Random House USA
  • Format: Paperback
  • RRP: $29.99
Categories:

About the Author

Tony Perrottet

The need for perpetual motion has always been Tony Perrottet's most obvious personality disorder. Studying History at Sydney he regularly disappeared hitch-hiking through the Outback, or traveling through rural India (enjoying a brief, inglorious career as a film extra in Rajasthan). On graduation, he moved to South America as a roving correspondent where he covered the Shining Path war in Peru, drug running in the Colombian Amazon and several rebellions in Argentina. Now living in Manhattan he continues to commute to Iceland, Tierra del Fuego and Zanzibar, while contributing to Esquire, Outside, the New York Times and the Sunday Times. Route 66 AD will appear in translation in Germany, Japan, Holland and Brazil.

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Praise for The Naked Olympics

“‘THE NAKED OLYMPICS presents the Greeks in all their glory, brutality, and vulgarity. It is a fascinating picture and popular history at its best.’ Norman Cantor, Professor Emeritus, New York University, and author of ANTIQUITY: THE CIVILIZATION OF THE ANCIENT WORLD”


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