The earliest period of Greek history was a setting for great wars, which in turn led to profound changes in society and institutions. The period stretching from the 8th to the 5th centuries B.C.E. also hosted a wealth of competitive sports, including outstanding events like the Olympic Games, which were religiously, socially and politically important for community life. The relationship between military feats and sporting achievements was soon established in ancient Greek minds and took root over the following centuries. Today we continue to explore the deeper nature of the two types of experience and contemplate the likelihood of their sharing a common origin. Through the use of historical, iconographic and poetic sources, the book provides a systematic comparison of the two domains – warfare and athletic struggle – in both political-anthropological and practical-material terms, and draws the conclusion that they are more alike than different.
Paola Angeli Bernardini is professor emeritus at the University of Urbino, where she used to teach Greek Philology.