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10 Fascinating Facts About the Ancient Olympic Games

Most people know that the Olympics started out in Ancient Greece, but did you know that back then the athletes competed in the nude? (Though technically, they could wear penis restraints - yes, you read that right). Or that one of the games was an ancient form of mixed martial arts? Or that a chef won the very first Olympic games?

To help celebrate the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, we'll posts some neat facts about the Olympics, starting with this one: 10 Fascinating Facts About the Ancient Olympic Games:

1. Ancient Olympic Athletes Competed in the Nude


Milo of Kroton, one of the greatest Ancient Olympic champion. He won
the wrestling event 6 times, over the span of 34 years! (Source)

Yes, that's right - ancient Olympic sportsmen (all men, by the way) ran, wrestled, and fought buck naked. The ancient Greeks had a tradition of doing things nude (they walked around in the buff in the bedroom and at parties called sympsia*, and they exercised without any clothes on) - indeed, the word gymnasium came from the Greek word gymos, which means "naked."

Why naked? Well, to appreciate and celebrate the male physique, of course, and as a tribute to the gods. Participants regularly anointed themselves with olive oil to enhance their looks ... and to keep the skin smooth!

In the sixth century, there was an actually attempt to make athletes wear loincloths, but this proved to be unpopular and soon afterwards nudity regained its status as fashion in athletics.

*Great trivia for the next time you're in a boring symposium: the original symposium is a nude drinking party (sympotein is Greek for "to drink together"), complete with courtesans (basically sophisticated prostitutes).

2. The Prudes Wore Penis Restraints

Did I say all athletes competed naked in the Ancient Olympics? Silly me - actually, not all of them were naked.

Some wore a kynodesme (literally a "dog leash"), a thin leather thong used as a penis restraint:

[The kynodesme] was tied tightly around the part of the foreskin that extended beyond the glans. The kynodesme could then either be attached to a waist band to expose the scrotum, or tied to the base of the penis so that the penis appeared to curl upwards.

3. A Chef Won the Very First Olympic Games

The very first recorded Ancient Olympic Games took place in 776 BC. The event was a stadion race (a foot race equivalent to a 190-m or 208-yard dash). The winner was a humble baker from the Greek city state of Elis named Coroebus (also spelled Koroibos).

For the first 13 games, the stadion race was the only competition. At the 14th Ancient Olympic Games, a double race was added.

4. ... and He Won ... An Olive Branch!


An Olympionike or a winner of an event receiving an olive wreath and red ribbons
(Epiktetos Painter, 520 - 510 BC - from mlahanas.de)

Yup - that's because the Ancient Olympic Games didn't have any medals or prizes. Winners of the competitions won olive wreaths, branches, as well as woolen ribbons. Oh, that and the all important honor.

They did, however, come home as heroes - and got showered with gifts there. Many victors subsequently used their fame to endorse products and to get paid posing for sculptures and drawings (just like today, huh?)

5. More than Just Running: Wrestling and Boxing Added to the Ancient Olympics

Tired of all the running, a new game of wrestling (called pale) was added to the 18th Olympics in 708 B.C.

Greek wrestling was a bit more fun than your regular high school wrestling. For one, submission holds were allowed (actually, they were encouraged) and that a referee could punish an infraction by whipping the contestant with a stick until the undesirable behavior stopped!

Later, pygme/pygmachia or Ancient Greek boxing was added. Now, some historian believed that boxing was originally developed in Sparta. Being the original tough guys, Spartans believed that helmets were unnecessary in battle. Instead, they boxed themselves in the face to prepare for battles!

In the Ancient Olympics, there were no rounds - boxing was done when a fighter was knocked out cold (if the fight lasted too long, then they each took turn punching each other in the head until one collapsed).

6. Pankration: Ancient Greek Mixed Martial Arts


In this Pankration scene, the pankriatiast on the right is trying to gouge his opponent's eye and the ref is about to beat the living tar out of him with a stick
(Photo: Jastrow [Wikimedia])

If you think that Ancient Greek boxing was violent, it's more like knitting when compared to pankration, the ancient form of mixed martial arts.

How violent was pankration? Let's just say that there were only two rules: no eye gouging and no biting (the referees carried sticks to beat those who violated the rules). Everything else - including choke holds, breaking fingers and neck - was legit. There was no weight division or time limits: the fight continued until a combatant surrendered, lost consciousness, or died.

In 564 BC, Arrhachion of Philgaleia was crowned the pankration victor ... even after he had died:

Arrhachion's opponent, having already a grip around his waist, thought to kill him and put an arm around his neck to choke off his breath. At the same time he slipped his legs through Arrhachion's groin and wound his feet inside Arrhachion's knees, pulling back until the sleep of death began to creep over Arrhachion's senses. But Arrhachion was not done yet, for as his opponent began to relax the pressure of his legs, Arrhachion kicked away his own right foot and fell heavily to the left, holding his opponent at the groin with his left knee still holding his opponent's foot firmly. So violent was the fall that the opponent's left ankle was wrenched from his socket. The man strangling Arrhachion ... signaled with his hand that he gave up. Thus Arrhachion became a three-time Olympic victor at the moment of his death. His corpse ... received the victory crown. (Source)

Lastly, just to prove that they're bad asses, the ancient Greeks then decided to start a pankration event for the paides or youth (boys aged 12 to 17) Olympic games!

7. The Olympic Games Weren't the Only One

Those Greeks sure did love their sports! The Ancient Olympic games were actually just a part of four sports festival called the Panhellenic Games:

- The Olympic Games, the most important and prestigious game of them all, was held in honor of Zeus every four years near Elis.
- Pythian Games was held every four years near Delphi in honor of Apollo
- Nemean Games was held every two years near Nemea, in honor of Zeus
- Isthmian Games was held every two years near Corinth, in honor of Poseidon

The games were arranged in such a way that there was one going on (almost) every year.

8. Heraea: Ancient Olympics for Women

Married women were banned at the Ancient Olympics on the penalty of death. The laws dictated that any adult married woman caught entering the Olympic grounds would be hurled to her death from a cliff! Maidens, however, could watch (probably to encourage gettin' it on later).

But this didn't mean that the women were left out: they had their own games, which took place during Heraea, a festival worshipping the goddess Hera. The sport? Running - on a track that is 1/6th shorter than the length of a man's track on the account that a woman's stride is 1/6th shorter than that of a man's!

The female victors at the Heraea Games actually got better prizes: in addition to olive wreaths, they also got meat from an ox slaughtered for the patron deity on behalf of all participants!

Overall, young girls in Ancient Greece weren't encouraged to be athletes - with a notable exception of Spartan girls. The Spartans believed that athletic women would breed strong warriors, so they trained girls alongside boys in sports. In Sparta, girls also competed in the nude or wearing skimpy outfits, and boys were allowed to watch (to encourage gettin' it on later marriage and procreation). (Photo: Sikyon.com)

9. Ancient "Computer" Used to Set Olympics Date

In 1901, a Greek sponge diver discovered the wreck of an ancient cargo ship off the coast of the Antikythera island. One of the item recovered was an ancient mechanical computer that became known as the Antikythera mechanism. Scientists estimated that it was created in 150 to 100 BC

For over a hundred years, scientists debated the true purpose of the Antikythera mechanism and marveled at the intricacies of the device (mind you, the mechanical clock didn't appear in the West until about a thousand years later).

Recently, scientists believed that they've finally cracked the mystery:

Tony Freeth, a member of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, said he was "astonished" at the discovery.

"The Olympiad cycle was a very simple, four-year cycle and you don't need a sophisticated instrument like this to calculate it. It took us by huge surprise when we saw this.

"But the Games were of such cultural and social importance that it's not unnatural to have it in the Mechanism." (Source)

10. Christianity Killed the Ancient Olympics

The Romans, who conquered Greece, viewed the Olympics as a pagan festival.

So, in AD 393, Roman Emperor Theodosius I banned the Ancient Olympics in part to institute Christianity as a state religion. The Olympics was no more ... until it was revived 1,500 years later in 1896.


"So, in AD 393, Roman Emperor Theodosius I banned the Ancient Olympics in part to institute Christianity as a state religion."

This is yet another anti-Christian lie, so prevalent throughout the Internet (including Neatorama), designed [by the Evil One] to poison the uneducated minds of the world's youth and others who spend a lot of time online.

The fact is that the ancient [not modern] Olympics were INTENSELY tied to the worship of pagan (i.e., false) gods, with oaths to them, etc.. Those running the games were UNWILLING to de-couple religion from athletics -- exactly what accusers now wrongly say about Christianity and other matters. The emperor's action was a virtuous act, done not out of a dislike of athletics, but out of concern for the peoples' souls.

Fellow readers, please do not be misled.
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@ AnUnSi

What nonsense? You some orthodox christian or what? If you have the proof of the SO CALLED LIES then get it forward instead of contradicting in a baseless manner

@ Neatorama Author

I actually thought that you might forget about the women part..not entering the grounds and stuff. There's a book by Readers Digest called "Vanished Civilizations", One of the best I've read so faar..

http://www.amazon.com/Vanished-Civilizations-Readers-Digest-Editors/dp/0276426584
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AnUnSi, you're letting your righteous indignation get the better of you.

This article is only slightly inaccurate, since Christianity had already been the state religion for several decades before Theodosius came along.

It is a fact that overly zealous (or savagely intolerant) Christians were responsible for the destruction of many, many pagan works of art and temples. The only reason that we have some buildings such as the Pantheon and the Colosseum are due to the fact that they were converted into churches and "sanctified".

The Evil One (Voldemort?) doesn't have to make up as much stuff as you imply.
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I for one am extremely glad that the penis-string didn't survive as a fashion trend. Can you imagine what happens if it gets caught on something while wrestling or running? Yowch.
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Another false excuse to hate Christians, exemplified perfectly by the comments in this thread. Get facts straight first. And to those trolls who just posted downright hateful replies about Christianity... hate speech goes both ways my friends. Look out for the LAWS YOU MADE.
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AuUnSi, Another Jake,

It seem that neither your posts, nor the link to the Christianity Today article provided actually refute the factoid #10, but rather back it up. Theodosius I did in fact do as claimed. Doesn't matter if he disliked athletics, had "good intentions", or not. The Olympics were abolished in the effort to make Christianity the state religion.

Your insecurity about simply stating facts seems to have blinded you to the statement of the original post.
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Oh, and there's the whole "they competed in the nude because a girl got in that one time" thing. I forget the exact details of the story, but before nudity was required, it was just encouraged. A girl decided to compete, and actually did pretty well. Then, at the end of the ceremony, someone called out that she was a woman. After that, only men, no women as spectators, and nudity all day every day.
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The reason for nudity wasn't to "show off the male physique" and Lenore is only half right. The Olympics were an all male affair and no women were allowed to compete, coach or interact with the athletes in any way. It used to be that Olympians competed with clothes on and a woman disguised herself as a man to coach a wrestler. When the wrestler one she began to celebrate and her disguise unraveled. Athletes then had to compete nude in order to make sure no women were interfering in the games.
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No bean; first it got the anti-Jesus blogspam. Simple chronology to follow.

And for the record, if Alex's information is correct, the title of #10 is at best misleading. "Christianity" didn't kill the ancient Olympics, it was Emperor Theodosius I who did it "in part to institute Christianity as a state religion." That statement implies that there were other reasons for doing away with the games.

Yet another case of using a dramatic headline to instigate the inevitable flame war that followed. A not-so-neat bit in an otherwise neat post.
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Hmmm... was pot-smoking part of the original Olympic Games, too?

I find it amusing that some Christians will bash the Olympics as a pagan orgy, while others will enter an event and pray to their god that they'll win. But I guess those poor souls are under the control of "the Evil One", eh AnUnSi?
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@Doctor Slack: You're right - it was ambiguous in the article. I've added a sentence (that the antikythera mechanism was estimated to have been made in 150 BC) that hopefully will explain it better.

@bean: Neatorama gets upwards of 15,000 spam comments daily. Akismet catches 99.99% of these (with a handful of false positives, but what can you do about it). I've added a trip filter that will hopefully get rid of pothead spam.
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you left out the little fact that what gave him the right to impose his views on others ( something christians are always doing , thats why everyone hates you ) you sheep fighting over what version of the sky god is correct have no problem failing to follow your own religion when it doesn't suit you .

we need to remember the ones who voice the loudest opinions on subjects are often the ones who don't believe what they are saying .
the pedophile politician who rails against child porn because he is scared they can see right through him , the religious preacher who rails against gays then molests alter-boys then blames it on satan , the religious freak who becomes an extremist because he is afraid people will find out he doesn't really believe he only goes to church for the social benefits
your self righteous arrogance reveals your true nature
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Darn! I missed the pothead spam. Was it the one about potheads getting raped in prison again? That's my favourite.

Another Jake, I hope you weren't calling me a troll for stating perfectly valid and true facts about the history of the Christian church. Some other folks were harsh, but my points still stand. Please feel free to debate any of them.
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I was actually enjoying these factoids till it got to #10.

What's the deal with "Christianity killed the games" when it was an Emperor who had not quite fully grasped the gospel.

A case from my own history, when I became I Christian I chucked all my Iron Maiden cd's, something I now deeply regret, but I went out and bought their "best of" compilation a few years ago and downloaded the rest.

Why couldn't the title be "The Romans killed the games" heck why not "Italians killed the games".

+ Why are some people on here getting upset that some skygod believers trashed some other skygod believers temple? Would you complain if some church buildings got trashed today - I imagine you'd celebrate?

People in glass houses...
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Good gracious, the trolls sure do get riled up over religion don't they? Ridiculous baiting and bickering going on.

At any rate, how many here knew that the Greeks invented the almighty jock strap?
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" Olympics was no more ... until it was revived 1,500 years later in 1896."
Yes the Olympics were revived by Frenchman Coubertin, to be what we know now. Man the FRANCE was RIGHT.
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To be fair, Christianity has a long history of taking 'pagan' and incorporating it. Look no further than the two main religious holidays of Christianity: Christmas and Easter. From the yuletide log to the easter bunny delivering eggs, significant non-relgious idealogy survives in what are considered fundamentally religious holidays. Whether Theodosiuous couldn't find a way to make Christianity part of the Olympics or had some other motive, we'll never know. Perhaps he was less savvy than the missionaries that came before him, or just wanted to show his power as emporer.

@Another Jake
Your article doesn't really argue the fact that Christians killed the games, more that they were justified in doing so, on grounds that could easily be used to end the NFL now. I'm not sure that's a long term answer to a (deserved or not) reputation of intolerance.
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@ alex fear

I'm an atheist, and personally i'd hate to see some of the churches i've seen get torn down in favor of some new god/gods or whatnot. many of them are so beautiful in architecture, and represent periods of our culture and history.

i'd say most other atheists will feel the same way i do. if the religion went out the window; who cares, some other bullcrap will take its place.
but some (i stress SOME, many i could give a crap about)of these buildings getting torn down because of new ideals, now that would be a sad day. that is destroying our history. not remembering history is how you repeat it.

this also plays into the realm of the addage: "i don't like what you say, but i will defend to my death the right for you to say it."
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Wow, Alex Fear. That's a pretty harsh assumption. Are you assuming I'm a pagan?

I would hope you could understand the great loss to humanity of sculpture, painting, literature, and architecture over the centuries, due to natural and human causes.

I would certainly mourn the loss of the beautiful and artistic works of Christian art and architecture, as well as those unique ornaments of other cultures and religions.

"See the wild waste of all-devouring years!
How Rome her own sad sepulchre appears;
With nodding arches, broken temples spread!
The very tombs now vanished like their dead!
Some felt the silent stroke of mouldering age;
Some, hostile fury; some, religious rage;
Barbarian blindness, Christian zeal, conspire;
And Papal piety, and Gothic fire..."
(Alexander Pope)
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Why can't blog authors on sites like this just stay neutral to begin with? I'll never understand the need for people on sites like icanhascheezburger, for instance, to upload anti-Xtian or anti-Bush lolcats, for example. The same goes here with this ''Xtianity killed...''. What's the point?

Why not just take into consideration the whole of your reading public before publishing? It isn't that hard to do.

Neatorama, and other similar sites, are where surfers just want to relax and enjoy a few minutes of downtime. Period.
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Thanks all for the fun reading today. It's always a blast when the christians come out and play, especially when it's about something really old like the discontinuation of sporting events in 200 C.E.

Personally I think the most egregious omission in the post is the fact that when wrestling naked, Olympians were vulnerable to, and tried to avoid, penis-grabbing. They even have sculptures of the act.
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Wow, these comments got controversial fast.

I for one enjoyed the article. Whether it's all 100% factual or not, I certainly hadn't heard much of the information included. Take it with a grain of salt like you should with any article you read on the Internet, folks.
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Whoa...

Christianity went crazy in here.

I'm religious, but honestly people, the guy acted because of his belief in Christianity. People do stupid, oppressive shit for their religion all the time. It was him, not the religion, but as he was synonymous with Christianity at the time, the religion is held responsible. Which isn't wrong, though it's not exactly right- but whatever.

Oh and Alex Fear, you wouldn't say the Italians "killed the games" because there weren't any. They weren't considered Italian because there was no Italy yet.
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It's not my intention to bait anyone with the heading "Christianity Killed the Ancient Olympics." I thought it was a straight forward statement saying that the new dominant religion in the Roman Empire (Christianity) saw itself as incompatible with the Ancient Olympics, because it was a pagan festival (which it was - the Ancient Olympics was a festival honoring Zeus).

It is my understanding that Early Christanity was a minority religion in the Roman Empire and that early Christians were persecuted.

After Constantine I converted to Christianity, the persecuted religion (surprise!) turned into a persecuting one: The Roman army sieged and conquered Jerusalem, and destroyed the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

Pagans were persecuted as well (Theodosius II ordered all non-Christian books to be burned in AD 448 and idolatry to be punishable by death in 451! Emperor Anastasius ordered Gentiles in Asia Minor to be exterminated, etc.)

Indeed, here's a quote from the Christianity Today article that Another Jake suggested:

in a.d. 393, Roman emperor Theodosius banned the Games, along with other festivals, for being "too pagan." Under the emperor's direction, fanatical Christians closed and later tore down ancient wonders of the world, most notably the Temple of Zeus built in Olympia and the Temple of Serapis in Alexandria. Search a bit more, and you might discover Theodosius's successor, Theodosius II, ordered his Roman army in 426 to demolish the impressive stadium of Olympia, which could accommodate more than 40,000 spectators at its peak.

History is history. A lot of brutal things were done in the name of religion.
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This is in reply to what "Ted (the other one)" wrote about Christianity borrowing Easter and Christmas from so-called 'pagan' religions:

It goes a LOT deeper than that. Osiris, Mithra, and Dionysus (all of whom were worshipped before Jesus was even born, and even before the Jews invented Jehovah) all had the following VERY INTERESTING things said about them:

* Was the son of a God

* Was born of a virgin

* Performed the miracle -- at a wedding, no less -- of turning water into wine

* Was tortured and violently killed, becoming a martyr

* Rose from the dead after being killed

* Was taken bodily into Paradise while still alive (after being resurrected)

* Sits in judgment of the dead

* Is the savior of Mankind

A lot of the symbols and traditions used by Christians are also cribbed from earlier 'pagan' religions that were suppressed in the rise of Christianity, including the symbolic cannibalism of Communion. It's not uncommon for archaeologists to have difficulty initially telling the difference between newly-rediscovered 'pagan' temples and early Christian temples. Dionysus was sometimes depicted nailed to a crucifix (although his story, which does vary, doesn't usually say he was killed that way)... in exactly the same pose that is typically used to depict Jesus, with the head bowed, knees together, legs turned to one side. Ancient icons depicting Dionysus crucified can easily be mistaken for Christian icons depicting Jesus, until you decipher what's written on them.

For example after example after example of earlier practices and traditions that were incorporated into Christianity and suppressed in their 'pagan' form, read Sir James Frazer's book THE GOLDEN BOUGH, which once upon a time was required reading for any university-educated person. It will give you a clear idea of how, in Europe, ideas about sympathetic magic became religious practices that were later incorporated into Christianity. The idea of a mock-king whose blood must be spilled at the Solstice in order to bring the resurrection of Spring every year is very, very old, and the idea that this mock-king would be brought back to life in the person of next year's sacrifice was quite commonplace.

If you ask me, religion in general is a disgusting sham that all too often closes and enslaves human minds (and sometimes bodies!). That includes the so-called 'pagan' faiths of old along with Wicca, faux-modern Druidism, Madonna Kabala Mahoney Malarkey, $cientology, the corruption of the Buddha's words that Buddhism has become, and every other bogus attempt to explain the world and tap into the mystic. However, unlike the Christians we know and loathe today, the ancient 'pagans' tended to be Gnostic in their worship, regarding it as a highly personal INTERNAL voyage that did not necessarily require priests or their bogus authority (except as guides to put one's foot on the path). These people were not prone to condemning others for holding differing beliefs, since Gnostic 'pagan' beliefs were mostly consciously allegorical anyway.

Saul of Tarsus, after converting rather suddenly to Christianity on the road to Damascus and changing his name to Paul, wrote extensively of Christianity as another approach to the Gnostic internal voyage... he also spoke of Jesus not as a real, actual person, but as an allegorical figure. In the rise of Mother Church and its greed for gold and power, Paul's gospel was conveniently left out of what became the Christian Bible.

It's also interesting to note that none of the Gospel authors included in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) ever met or even saw Jesus. The earliest of them didn't write his gospel until AD 70, when Jesus had allegedly been dead for 37 years (I say 'allegedly' because there isn't any reliable evidence to prove that Jesus ever really lived in the first place, except as a Gnostic allegory). Three of the four had read and were heavily influenced by the Gospel(s) written by their predecessors, and their versions of Jesus' life had some rather glaring differences. In the 5th Century Tatian wrote his 'Diatessaron' in an attempt to fuse the four Gospels into one; this became the standard Christian text used in Syria during the 3rd and 4th Centuries. The Diatessaron was eventually replaced with four separate Gospels again, but it does show that there was a conscious effort to make the four Gospels agree more closely, an effort that did not cease when the Diatessaron fell out of fashion.

Christians, go and be superstitious all you like; comfort yourself with the delusion that you don't REALLY have to die if that's what you have to do to cope; spend your free time sending telepathic fan mail to your imaginary zombie superhero praising Him and pledging to be his servant in return for His having mercy on you for being born sinful as a result of a woman made of a spare rib from a man molded out of clay getting conned into eating a magic apple by a magic talking snake; whatever. Just stop getting it all over the rest of us, you insufferable bunch of nosy, prejudiced, narrow-minded, oppressive, hateful, judgmental, un-Christlike tools.
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@Shprocket

What's all that got to do with the Olympics or #10 on the list.

@Alex

Explanation accepted as far as I'm concerned, it's seems that the Romans simply traded their gods for the Christian God and carried on their persecution- they simply swapped teams!

@Offended Atheists etc...

Guys, I tried not to make a generalisation, I didn't even use the term atheist, I said "some people", there's no need to turn this into an US vs THEM debate.
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One last point regarding trashing of ancient buildings...

They are only appreciated now because they are ancient, we can see the hard work in them, and some of them are great works of art.

But back in the day they were built, they were simply buildings made out of what every other building was, they were common and not seen as ancient architectural masterpieces.

If someone pulls down an old shed today, does anyone protest over it's greatness? No. But in 2000 years that old shed you have in your back garden might be visited by people from all over the world (and galaxy?)!
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Wow, Alex Fear.

If this weren't supposed to be about the Olympics, I'd debate it further. But one point: archaologists do like to find the old sheds of antiquity as well as the architectural marvels which were very much appreciated for their beauty in ancient times.

Are you saying that the pyramids, the Parthenon, the Pantheon, the Temple at Jerusalem, the palaces, the villas, etc..., were just so commonplace that they meant nothing at the time? Now, you're just being silly. If that were the case, they would never have been built.
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Alex Fear gets an EPIC FAIL for his sorry apologist attempts.

The truth is that Jesus was a gay man. Thats why Christians are such prudish pussies today. Their hero is George Bush.

Debate THAT.
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@Ted

No doubt, however (correct me if I'm wrong) the pyramids were built with slaves, therefore, since they represent slavery shouldn't they be destroyed in a symbolic act of restoration?

I agree we're going slightly off-topic but I'm trying to keep this in the frame of #10 on the list which for me turns a fun list into a slight dig at Christians. My original point was why not just say it was Emperor Theodosius who killed the games (there's nothing I can find in the bible that tells me the Olympic games warranted banning - come to think of it, there's nothing in the bible that tells me Christianity belongs to any state or is a state religion).

And yes, I'm a Christian but (and I know this will come as a shock) I enjoy Neatorama. I wouldn't want Neatorama to dig at atheists but every now and then there's an article that digs at the Christians and it brings out people like JIFP above.
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Oh, I agree with you, Alex Fear, that Christians get slagged a lot by the atheist crew here at Neatorama. And maybe Alex could have worded the last title a little better.

But if you start denying history, as AnUnSi did, you're going to receive valid criticism in response.

To say, "There's nothing in the Bible that says the Olympics were bad or Christianity is a state religion" is specious. There's nothing in the Bible that says the church should torture sinners (hmmmm... or is there? I better double-check my Leviticus on that), but there was that whole Inquisition.

To argue about "state religion" is to descend into Semantics and sophistry. Christianity was adopted by the state as its official religion. I haven't read of any Christians at the time saying, "Oh, but maybe we should remain separate from the state..." or "Do we really have to destroy and loot these pagan temples? Can't we just all learn to live together in peace?"

Of course not. Both sides were at each other until the pagan religions were pretty much wiped off the face of the earth. You can say that's not what Christianity is all about, but that's what happened at the time.
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@Ted.

Show me where the in the Bible (the commonly world known accepted one) it instructs Christians to:

1. Become the official state religion.
2. Ban the Olympics.
3. Persecute non-Christians.
4. Torture sinners.

You may be right on the history angle but you are without a shadow of a doubt, dead wrong on the biblical angle. Your comment shows that aside from dipping in and out you haven't studied the book at all.
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Of course not. Both sides were at each other until the pagan religions were pretty much wiped off the face of the earth. You can say that’s not what Christianity is all about, but that’s what happened at the time.

Sadly it is very true. History shows that evil people can corrupt anything intended for good.
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The ancient Greeks were just a bunch of Cult crazed, fags that loved rolling all over eachother while covered in oil. Face it, its true, and no amount of modern, legitimizing propaganda which makes it sound like there was sensible reason behind their actions is going to change that.

Otherwise, I suppose you'll also have a reasonable explaination for why it is that when they weren't "all up" in eachother, they were "all up" in adolescent boy's. Nothing new under the sun. Modern fags are no different.
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Alex Fear, why oh why are you trying to twist my words?

Your comments show that aside from dipping in and out, you haven't studied what I've said at all.

What I said above was that I would have to check Leviticus to see if the Bible recommends torture for heathens. The fact that it may not recommend it certainly didn't stop Torquemada.

In Leviticus, the Bible does recommend stoning for some sins and death for others. Although many Christians reject these laws today, many still agree that death is a fair penalty for homosexuality - kinda harsh, don't you think?

Jesus's words about "rendering unto Caesar" would also seem to recommend keeping church and state separate, but as I said already, that didn't stop the church from heartily agreeing when the state welcomed it with open arms.

Any other points you care to belabour?
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I know it's just a troll, but I had to laugh at Chihuahua's comments there about the Greeks "all up" in each other.

The fact of the matter is that for the Greeks, sexual relations between two adult men was frowned upon. Sexual relations between men and boys was acceptable. You will see this sort of behaviour in even the most strict societies today, including the Muslims, where according to the Iraqi Prime Minister, homosexuality is non-existent. Boy will experiment with other boys. Older men will abuse boys (and girls, too).

Most cultures rightly oppose the sexual abuse of children, but the abuse is often covered up and ignored, in the hopes that it will simply "go away".

Most gay men have no interest in pursuing boys for sexual relations. Simply pointing your finger at them and calling them "fags" who are "all up" in boys is pointless, inaccurate, and hateful.

Some Greeks did participate in such activities. Not all did. Some Christians destroyed pagan temples, ended the Olympics, tortured heathens, and went on crusades to pillage the Holy Land. Not all did.
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I took a graduate seminar a couple of semesters ago with David Young, one of the world's foremost scholars on the Olympic games, both ancient and modern. There are some points I would like to address.

The penis restraints were not worn for prudish reasons: they were worn to keep the penis from flapping and causing pain while an athlete ran.

Also, though women were officially banned from the games, in practice they probably did attend.

Furthermore, Christianity was responsible for the end of the original Olympics, but they were, in fact, a religious festival honoring Olympic Zeus. It's unfortunate that that tradition was lost, but don't get too busy bashing Christianity and forget that the only reason Latin and Greek poetry, drama, comedy, and rhetoric survive is because Christian monks cared enough to preserve the works of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Vergil, Catullus, Homer, and numerous others, even in the face of the numerous conflicts that occurred between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, including Moorish invasions, Genghis Khan, the Viking menace, and the ubiquitous political upheavals (this from a non-Christian, by the way).
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These comments have been fascinating.

@Ted, appreciate you know your stuff and not trying to twist your words but it was the line "To say, “There’s nothing in the Bible that says the Olympics were bad or Christianity is a state religion” is specious." that needed refuting. Perhaps I could have addressed the rest of your comment too as I don't disagree with everything else you said.

@Seth, thanks for balanced the insight!
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@ Ted (the other one)
@ Shprocket

It has become quite a popular, spreading belief that Judaism & Christianity is simply an adaptation or a reinterpretation of previous pagan religeons. Propagating this view is intended to refute or discredit the validity of Judeo/Christianity's teaching of that its source is the only true god and that he is someone other than the false gods of Paganism. The intention to disprove that is obvious from the implication of that Jud/Chr. is no different than the previous pagan religeons since it is merely a recycling of them. If this were true, and if at their core, they were really just the same thing. Then why would they have always produced different cultures/lifestyles/values that have always been at odds with eachother?

There is obviously a huge fundamental difference between them. Differences which are so different, that they are in fact, opposites. There are reasons why those similarities/mirrorings between Jud/Chr. and earlier Pagan religeons exist. Reasons of which their explaination would be to long for this already long post. Though I'd explain if requested.
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@ Alex
(After Constantine I converted to Christianity, the persecuted religion (surprise!) turned into a persecuting one: The Roman army sieged and conquered Jerusalem, and destroyed the Second Temple of Jerusalem)

Constantine simply made Christianity legal. Since during his time, it had been made a matter of official policy to persecute Christians within the empire. Neither Constantine nor the Roman empire persecuted pagans. That is a flat out lie, with no historical evidence of it. During Constantine's reign Paganism was still alive and well, and there was no decreed banning of it. He merely caused Christianity to be tolerated along with the previously existent Roman religeons. Constantine resurected the Roman Senate, of which most of its members were Pagans during his rule.

"Herods" temple(the 2nd) in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 a.d. while they were still completely pagan. That was about 230 years before the time of Constantine's reign.

@ Ted
(Christianity was adopted by the state as its official religion. I haven't read of any Christians at the time saying, “Oh, but maybe we should remain separate from the state…” or “Do we really have to destroy and loot these pagan temples?)

Why would they have said "maybe we should remain separate from the state." The Romans didn't have any policy of "separation of church and state." Why should they have been expected to adopt such a policy at that time? Since throughout the empires entire history, the Roman politicians had all always been religeous. They had always been pagans. With rituals conducted even at the Senate building.

As a matter of fact, not even America has such a
"separation of church and state" official policy.
At least not in the way in which its been interpreted by atheists and the ACLU. "Separation of church and state" was ammended in the 19th century by a hugely majority, Protestant America. Ammended during a time in which there was a giant wave of Catholic immigrants coming to the U.S. from Europe. Americans, having been aware of European and Latin American history, as well as the then, present time. Knew all too well of what had always been the case whenever the rulers of a state were Catholic. That in fact, the rulers would soon become the Vatican. "Separation of church and state" was ammended by, the mostly religeous, representatives of religeous people in America to guard against Vatican rule. Not for a tyranical minority in the 20th century and beyond, to use it as a weapon against them. In that tyranical minority's quest to eliminate that which they are so extremely intolerant of. Not to mention, ignorant of. As well as of Americas true history. Such as Congress' nickname during the war of Independance.........
"The Bible Congress". Kind of a strange name for a bunch of national founding, supposed, secularists. Would'nt you say?
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lol
In Sparta, girls also competed in the nude or wearing skimpy outfits, and boys were allowed to watch (to encourage gettin' it on later marriage and procreation).
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Wow, Chui-whatever. That's a radically different comment from your "all up in each other" comments. I never said the idea of separation was around. I simply said I've never heard of a religion saying no to taking part in the governing process of any state.

But I won't bother any more with it, since you might get crude in your comments again.
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Chuichupachichi:

Those are some severely specious statements you've made about Christianity vs. Paganism.

You said:

"It has become quite a popular, spreading belief that Judaism & Christianity is simply an adaptation or a reinterpretation of previous pagan religeons."

First of all, this is not anything recent. It goes back to the very beginnings of your silly delusional religion. Second, what does 'popularity' have to do with it? Are you trying to imply that because many people agree that Christianity blatantly appropriated many elements from older religions, that the assertion is false? Your grasp of logic is as poor as your grasp of reality, Mr. Believes-in-a-Giant-Magic-Superhero-Who-Lives-in-the-Sky.

You said:

"Propagating this view is intended to refute or discredit the validity of Judeo/Christianity’s teaching of that its source is the only true god and that he is someone other than the false gods of Paganism."

No. Propagating this view is intended to propagate sane, reasonable, rational, historical truth, unlike anything in the Bible or the withered heads of religious zealots like you. It's got nothing to do with promoting some set of irrational beliefs (i.e., religion) alternative to your own. Rational people aren't religious, and rational educated people laugh at the idea that your Bible is an historical document.

You said:

"The intention to disprove that is obvious from the implication of that Jud/Chr. is no different than the previous pagan religeons since it is merely a recycling of them. If this were true, and if at their core, they were really just the same thing. Then why would they have always produced different cultures/lifestyles/values that have always been at odds with eachother?"

First of all, it's spelled R-E-L-I-G-I-O-N. I didn't point that out the first time because I figured it was a typo, but you seem consistent about spelling the word with too many 'e's and not enough 'i's. I hate to make a spelling flame out of this, but seriously: if you can't even SPELL 'religion', then how on Earth could anyone take you for a serious enough scholar of religion to know diddly-squat about it?

Second, your argument here is very typical of the "oversimplify, misinterpret, then leap to a conclusion that does not follow" style of debate that is so frequently employed by clench-fisted, belligerent 'religeous' zealots like yourself. Christianity and Paganism have not "always been at odds with each other". Christianity became intolerant of Paganism, but the so-called Pagan religions have often been noted for their tolerance of other belief systems. In Pantheistic Rome, the common wisdom was that worshippers of different gods were basically doing the same thing, only putting a different face on it. Christians, by contrast, from the very beginning took the attitude (inherited from the Jews, from whom you cribbed and stole even before appropriating all those pagan traditions) that theirs was the ONE, TRUE GOD, and that all other gods were false. I see that you yourself are particularly strident about this point, as you go out of your way to characterize pagan deities as "false gods".

Don't even start with any nonsense about Christians being persecuted by the Romans. That was not a matter of Paganism being intolerant of Christianity, it was a matter of a profoundly martial society being intolerant of people who believed that killing was a sin, because such people make very poor soldiers.

You said:

"There is obviously a huge fundamental difference between them. Differences which are so different, that they are in fact, opposites. There are reasons why those similarities/mirrorings between Jud/Chr. and earlier Pagan religeons exist. Reasons of which their explaination would be to long for this already long post. Though I’d explain if requested."

The "huge fundamental difference" was not always there, and the two are not opposites. Early Christianity, particularly the flavor promoted by Paul/Saul of Tarsus, was deeply Gnostic, just like paganism. In other words, Christ was viewed as an allegory, not a real person, and the path to becoming a true Christian was an inner voyage in which symbolic figures (like Jesus) and events (like the Resurrection) were used as waypoints to finding the Christ within yourself, and actualizing it in your external life. Saul/Paul's Gnostic form of Christianity was suppressed by what became the Catholic church because Gnosticism is not compatible with the idea that you need a lot of clergy and bishops and a Pope to communicate with God for you and tell you what to do. There was a lot of money and power at stake, Paul's Gnosticism got in the way of the church getting at that money and power, and no further explanation is necessary to anyone who isn't so delusional as to believe in bearded robed giants who lounge around on clouds and watch with disapproval when humans masturbate. Suffice it to say that although Paul was extremely important to early Christianity and did more to spread the faith than anyone who came before him, his writings were shrewdly left out when the canonical New Testament was forged out of an incoherent pile of zany, foamy-mouthed ramblings about a parthenogenetic Jewish zombie whose vampiric God needed blood for some reason (yet couldn't just magic up an ocean of it to swim in to fill that need).

I laugh at your assertion that your post was too long to continue, as it was much shorter than other posts you've made in which you pitched hissy fits, blatantly flamed other people, and revealed your intolerance and homophobia (incidentally, did you know that a recent university study reveals that, as long suspected, homophobes find homosexuals repellent because they are themselves repressed homosexuals? Come out of the closet, Mary, and be the butterfly you are for once).
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Hi Shprocket!

I just wanted to let you know that there are probably plenty of open-minded Christians that have read this post (and the flame war that ensued) and simply didn't reply. I hope you don't wrap "us" up with some of the crazies here on this page.

I actually found this post from a link from the blog of a well known Christian, Mark Oestreicher. So I know that there were probably at least a few hundred fellow youth pastors like myself who have looked at this page the last few days.

I understand that your beef was mainly directed at a few specific people here and since I try to separate myself from plenty of people who call themselves "Christians" (but seem to have a hard time figuring how to live that out daily), I just wanted to let you know that I didn't take offense of anything here and I hope that someday even though we have differing opinions, that maybe we can find some common ground.

I understand your need to wake up some of the "sheep" that have never actually studied the history of their faith before, but I hope you can understand that when you say "Christians" that you are throwing a lot of very different people, with extremely different point of views into the same bucket. One you don't seem to like, and neither do I.

I hope you have a nice day.

-James
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Hello JJames,

While I do consider the religious beliefs of ALL Christians (and all Jews, Muslims, Hindus, devotees of Ahura-Mazda, Voodoo practitioners, Cybelians, Druids, Appolonians, etc. etc. ad consummatio) to be entirely irrational, I do reserve the bulk of my mockery and vitriol for those, like Chuichupachichi, who fail so magnificently and so vocally to be even remotely Christ-like.

Forgive me for apparently lumping you all together, but (1) in America at least, the type of Christian that you profess to be is decidedly the exception, while the type of Christian that Chuichupachichi represents is the rule; and (2) as noted above, I do still consider you lamentably irrational if you believe in Jesus as an historical person who came back from the dead and was the actual, non-allegorical product of some mystical tryst between God and Mary.

On the other hand, I do have a certain amount of grudging admiration for anyone who recognizes the need to emulate Christ in order to be a good and proper Christian, no matter how irrational they are otherwise. Never mind that this need should be glaringly obvious to anyone with a clear head who has read the New Testament... there are few enough of you out there that it should be considered some kind of accomplishment. The fact that Christ-like Christians are such a minority suggests to me that there is some kind of direct correlation between the tendency to be religious, and an inability to think clearly and/or rationally.

Mere irrationality I can be good-natured about, but those aggressively bellicose types who seek to codify their irrational beliefs into our lawbooks I regard as dire enemies of humanity who richly deserve to have the embarrassing light of plain fact shone upon them whenever possible, along with heaping helpings of caustic derision.

I will say this about Christianity: If you define Christianity as simply the teachings of Jesus, unsullied and unvarnished by opportunistic interpretations, and without all the value-added nonsense embellishments about the prophecies of the Jews, virgin birth, healing of lepers with a word or a touch, walking on water, turning water into wine, coming back from the dead, etc., it doesn't offend me a bit.

What Jesus said was noble and beautiful, and unlike the things said about Jesus by other people, that nobility and beauty defy even an over-simplified satirical treatment like "HAY GUYZ, LET'S ALL TRY BEING NICE 2 EACH OTHER 4 A CHANGE, EVEN IF PEOPLE AREN'T NICE 2 US BACK, KTHXBAI". I'm a fan of that basic message, and it shocks, disturbs, and angers me no end that the majority of Christians in America today are somehow able to twist it into "God wants us to kill those Satan-worshipping Muslim ragheads, reject science, persecute homosexuals, shred the Constitution, and take over the government".

Unfortunately, nobility and beauty is not enough to make an idea practical. Karl Marx had some pretty noble and beautiful ideas too, and they also defy that satirical boiling-down treatment: "HAY GUYZ, LET'S ALL B EQUALZ & SHARE EVERYTHING, K?". I'd buy Marx a beer and call him a great-hearted giant among men if he wasn't dead, but his ideas still fail miserably when people try to put them into practice. People simply are not as motivated to be virtuous as Marx (and Jesus) apparently gave them credit for being, which is why attempts to put Christianity and Communism into practice inevitably result in atrocious, disastrous failures like the Inquisition or the Soviet Union.

To any Christian to whom my point of view sounds at all reasonable: I'd be more than happy to sit down and have a genuinely friendly meal with you, and even discuss your religious beliefs without any rancor whatsoever... though I wouldn't be able to help but be at least a little bit amused by them. I could never do the same with a 'Christian' like Chuichupachichi, because I'd either lose my appetite completely, or have my entire day ruined by an unfulfilled desire to stick my salad fork in his eye.
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Ah, on the nudity - it wasn't about male physique or keeping women out...

According to Larry Gonick's excellent Cartoon History of the Universe...

The Spartans used to train their males and females naked. Thus, when the Olympics started circa 776 BC, the Spartans took the traditions along with them and competed naked. Being very successful at the Olympics, the idea took hold with the other Greek states. See, it's a bit wrong to talk about the ancient Greeks as if they were one people. The states hardly ever got along and frequently fought each other.

Also an interesting tidbit - boxing was the only sport where you had to concede to have a winner. But Spartans didn't ever concede. Eventually they would boycott the boxing event (unless they knew they would win).
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A time-line of the death of the Ancient Games (from Tony Perrottet's "The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games", p 190-191):

http://www.amazon.com/Naked-Olympics-Story-Ancient-Games/dp/081296991X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221384630&sr=8-3

312 A.D. Emperor Constantine makes Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire; as paganism fades, the prestige of Olympia declines rapidly.

394 A.D. Emperor Theodosius I bans all pagan festivals. The Olympics are officially disbanded -- although archaeologists now suggest they kept going in some form, perhaps in Christian guise.

426 A.D. The Temple of Zeus [at Olympia] is burned on the orders of Theodosius II. Christian fanatics destroy the rest of the sanctuary.

522 A.D. The first of a series of devastating earthquakes hits Olympia.
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so what does the Ancient Greek people wear? What is the behaviour expected from the athletes in the Ancient Greece Olympic Games? What was life like for the athletes in the Ancient Greece Olympic Games? What did the Ancient Greek people eat generally?
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It's SO strange that they wore penis restraints and that a chef won the first Olympics! I wish that this site would post more! All of this information is really interesting!
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Hahah i think whoever has the time to write a 9 paragraph comment about religion and what went on 3,000+ year's ago has Way to much time on their hands!
Lol

,Peace (:

PS The facts where very cool(: Thanxx Much.
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HEY!
everyone stop hatin on eachother just caz ur gettin into a disagreement over a tragic(and yes the ending of the olympic games were tragic) event that happend thousands of years ago.

look you guys u cant base ur oppinions of a religious group on the actions of one man(and followers) just because someone thousands of years ago desided that everyone that he ruled over should worship the same God he did and only that God... that sort of thinking is whats causing wars all over the world.so if ur gonna sit thier and hate on athiest christians or muslims just because thier beliefs are different yours than you are just going to cause more problems than u will be solving..

so the next time u see sumthing that u disagree with. dont start telling everyone what is wrong with thier beliefs or the facts.. just cause u dont like the ways history happend does not mean that u can diss on other people because they write it like it happend.

so take a minuet and think.... is wat ur about to say goin to caz a problem or solve one. and if the olypmics hadnt of been band... how would that effect life today.. wew would prob not have very good morals the olympics would nat be the grat competition that they are now.. so maybe what happend tuned out to be the best.. so i am agreeing with valerie on this one..

ohh and for everyone who wants to know mare about the olympics(without a subjective view point just facts) then u should read The Naked Olympics by Tony Perrottet im in the middle of reading it.. its a very good book.

and one quick question.. @jesus is a pussie just where exactly are u getting your facts. caz from what ive read he most def is not.
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Well Romans weren't Christians, they worship similar gods that the Greeks did. And it was Constantine that 'converted' to christianity as a political maneuver. We still see this happening today.
The Romans had games much more violent and worse than the Greek Olympics. The used wild animals, gladiators, fighting till the death, slaves & prisoners for their entertainment. Christians were put to death in their arenas. (post Catholic) The origins of a lot of catholic doctrine is tied to Roman 'pagan' gods. the Mother of God/Madonna ie Ghea Mother Earth ie Ishtaroth/Isis, which is where Easter comes from. Easter was then tied to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. the many statues of 'saints' and angels replaced all the roman gods and goddesses.

The Romans didn't stop the Olymics because of Christianity. But it was stopped because it became to barbaric. And it was not considered the Olympics.
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