The Victors Crown: A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium

Paperback | October 6, 2011

byDavid Potter

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The Victor's Crown brings to vivid life the signal role of sport in the classical world. Ranging over a dozen centuries - from Archaic Greece through to the late Roman and early Byzantine empires - David Potter's lively narrative shows how sport, to the ancients, was not just a dim reflectionof religion and politics but a potent social force in its own right. The passion for sport among the participants and fans of antiquity has been matched in history only by our own time.Potter first charts the origins of competitive athletics in Greece during the eighth century BC and the emergence of the Olympics as a preeminent cultural event. He focuses especially on the experiences of spectators and athletes, especially in violent sports such as boxing and wrestling, anddescribes the physiology of conditioning, training techniques, and sport's role in education. Throughout, we meet the great athletes of the past and learn what made them great. The rise of the Roman Empire transformed the sporting world by popularizing new entertainments, particularly gladiatorialcombat, a specialized form of chariot racing, and beast hunts. Here, too, Potter examines sport from the perspectives of both athlete and spectator, as he vividly describes competitions held in such famous arenas as the Roman Coliseum and the Circus Maximus. The Roman government promoted andorganized sport as a central feature of the Empire, making it a sort of common cultural currency to the diverse inhabitants of its vast territory. While linking ancient sport to events such as religious ceremonies and aristocratic displays, Potter emphasizes above all that it was the thrill of competition - to those who competed and those who watched - that ensured sport's central place in the Greco-Roman world.

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The Victor's Crown brings to vivid life the signal role of sport in the classical world. Ranging over a dozen centuries - from Archaic Greece through to the late Roman and early Byzantine empires - David Potter's lively narrative shows how sport, to the ancients, was not just a dim reflectionof religion and politics but a potent social...

David Potter is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Greek and Latin in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Ancient Rome: A New History and Emperors of Rome as well as two forthcoming OUP titles, Constantine the Emperor and Theodora.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:424 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:October 6, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199842752

ISBN - 13:9780199842759

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Table of Contents

MapsPrefaceThen and NowPart 1: Ashes, Linen and the Origins of Sport1. Introduction2. Homer and the Bronze Age3. Homer and SportPart 2: Olympia4. From Myth to History5. Olympia in 480 BC6. The Olympic Games of 476 BC7. The Festival Approaches8. WinningThe Equestrian EventsThe Pentathlon and the Foot RacesNudityPain and Suffering9. Remembering VictoryThe Athlete as Hero10. The Emergence of the Panhellenic Cycle 98Part 3: The World of the Gynmasium11. Sport and Civic Virtue12. Beroia13. Getting in Shape and Turning ProPart 4: Roman Games14. Greece Meets Rome15. Kings and Games16. Rome and Italy17. Actors and Gladiators18. Caesar, Antony, Augustus and the GamesPart 5: Imperial Games19. Watching20. The Fan's Experience21. Expectations22. Crowd Noise23. Dreaming of Sport24. Images of Sport25. Women's Sports26. ParticipatingLife as a GladiatorTraining and RankingDyingChoosing to be a Gladiator27. Charioteers28. AthletesAthletic GuildsCheating29. Local GamesAdministrationAthleticsEpilogue: The Long End of an EraBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"Vivid and authoritative. Potter skillfully reveals how the gymnasium lay at the heart of Greek life and culture, but his passion is clearly for the Olympics. When Potter moves on to Roman sport, things get livelier still. He meticulously traces the origins, careers and lifestyles of athletes,gladiators and charioteers alike, and demolished some cherished myths along the way. Most gladiatorial combats apparently ended in surrender, not death, although a crowd might well call out 'ingula!' (kill!), running their thousands of thumbs under their throats in the original 'thumbs up' gesture.Fascinating and impressive." --James McConnachie, Sunday Times