America's First Olympics: The St. Louis Games of 1904

By George R. Matthews | Go to book overview

The Ghost of Plato

The Alpheus River flows beside a broad meadow just outside the small village of Olympia in the southwest region of modern Greece. Here the ancient Olympic games took place to honor Zeus, the supreme god of the ancient deities. Coroebus, a resident of Elis, the Greek province in which Olympia lies, was crowned with a wreath of wild olive for his victory in the stade footrace (approximately 220 yards) in the year 776 BCE.1 There are no records of earlier Olympic champions, but archaeologists have dated the Temple of Hera on the grounds of ancient Olympia as having been constructed several centuries before Coroebus. The mist of legend and myth shrouds the deeds of the earliest Olympic athletes.

The ancient Olympic games were a staple of Greek society, and in 146 BCE, when Rome conquered Greece, the games continued under Roman rule. It was not until 394 CE, more than five hundred years later, after Christianity was officially sanctioned as the state religion of the Roman world, that the pagan Olympic games were terminated. The Christian emperor of Rome, Theodosius, issued the proclamation prohibiting the

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America's First Olympics: The St. Louis Games of 1904
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • A Tale of Two Cities 3
  • The Ghost of Plato 40
  • Transfer Accepted 93
  • St. Louis Olympian Games 113
  • Place in History 201
  • Notes 213
  • Bibliography 223
  • Index 231
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