The Panathenaic Games: A Celebration of Athleticism and Culture
Updated: Sep 12
George P. Papadellis | SG Head
with some good tips from AI
For over a thousand years, the ancient Greeks held the Panathenaic Games in Athens, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. These games were held in honor of the goddess Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, and were a celebration of athleticism and culture.
Photo by: MatthiasKabel assumed (based on copyright claims)., Greek vase with runners at the panathenaic games 530 bC, CC BY-SA 3.0
The Panathenaic History
The Panathenaic (which means "all the Athenians") Games are estimated to have been inaugurated during the reign of the mythical king of the city of Athens Erichthonios, which historically dates from 1487 to 1437 BC. Peisistratos (like the mythical hero Theseus, who tried through the religious content of the holiday to politically unite the municipalities of Attica) wanted to give the games pan-hellenic characteristics that would obviously emphasize the supremacy of the Athenians. This happened in the decade 570 – 560 BC, as the ancient sources inform us. Thus, during the two important centuries that followed, with Athens playing a hegemonic role, the holding of the games due to Athenian prosperity gained pan-hellenic interest. The Panathenaic Games were divided into the Great and the Minor. The Great Panathenaic Games were held every four years, while the Minor Panathenaic Games every year. Most of the time, they took place during the month of Hecatombaion, which corresponds to today's July. The Great Panathenaic Games was celebrated with great pomp and lasted 12 days. During these days, there were sacrifices, competitions of various kinds (foot races, wrestling, boxing, pentathlon), festivals and chariot races. The nude matches took place at the Echelides of Piraeus or at the Panathenauc Stadium. Greeks from all parts of Greece took part in these games. They distinguished themselves in men's and children's races. The winners of these competitions were given an olive wreath and a Panathenaic amphora filled with oil from the sacred olive trees of Athens. Each amphora bore on one side a representation of Athena, between two columns and the inscription "Athenian labors", and on the other side a representation of a fight and the name of the eponymous lord. The achievements were celebrated in poetry, music, and art.
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Athleticism and Culture
The Panathenaic Games were not just about athleticism, however. They were also a celebration of Greek culture, with competitions in music, poetry, and drama. The most famous of these competitions was the tragic playwright competition, where playwrights from all over Greece would present their works in the Theater of Dionysus. The games also included a grand procession, the Panathenaic Procession, which was held on the final day of the games. This procession was a grand spectacle, with athletes, musicians, and citizens of Athens marching through the city to the Acropolis of Athens, where they presented a new robe to the statue of Athena.
Legacy of the Games
The Panathenaic Games continued to be held in Athens until the 4th century AD when they were banned by the Roman emperor Theodosius I, who banned all pagan festivals. The modern Olympic Games, which were revived in Athens in 1896, were inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia, and the Panathenaic Games, which were held in Athens. Today, the Olympic Games continue to be a celebration of athleticism and culture, and they serve as a testament to the enduring legacy of the ancient Greeks. The Panathenaic Games were a celebration of athleticism and culture that continue to inspire us today. They remind us of the importance of competition, cultural exchange, and the pursuit of excellence!
To find more about the Panathenaic Games, you can visit the Panathenaic Stadium. We propose, close to the Stadium, the hotels: The One Acropolis, Pi Athens, The Newel Acropolis, Royal Olympic Hotel, B4B Athens Signature, Athesense Suites and LUX&EASY Acropolis Suites.
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Very interesting points close to the Panathenaic Stadium are: the Acropolis Museum, the Acropolis, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Zappion Hall and Gardens, the Children's Art Museum, the National Gallery.