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Sportsmen in ancient Greece and Rome were celebrities who won grand prizes and toured

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Paid to play, travelling internationally and enjoying celebrity status: the lifestyle of a modern elite professional sportsperson, but also that of some elite sportsmen in ancient Greece and Rome.

Ancient Greeks lived in perhaps 1,000 autonomous communities stretching, in modern terms, from Spain in the west to Afghanistan in the east, from Ukraine in the north to Egypt in the south. Many of these settlements held regular festivals which combined religious celebration with athletic events, especially discus and javelin throwing, running, wrestling and chariot racing.

There were hundreds of festivals, sufficient for circuits to develop in which athletes could participate in local festivals as well as one of the more significant events, such as those held at Olympia. The athletes travelled to participate because they made money. There was no word for amateur in the Ancient Greek sporting lexicon and virtually all elite performers were professionals.


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