The first Olympics in ancient Greece were an arena to display athletic prowess for honor's sake. Think you're an expert in the ways of the Greek games? Grease up and try our quiz to find out if you're a gold medalist in ancient Olympic trivia.
The modern Olympic Games continue the ancient Greeks' tradition of holding games once every four years. In the 12 centuries of the ancient Olympics, the locale was changed only four times. The addition of winter games didn't come until 1924.
Although their origins stretch further back, the first official ancient Olympic Games were held in 776 B.C.
According to myth, Zeus defeated Cronus in the very first games for control as chief of the gods. Some time later, a demigod named Herakles held a festival of athletic events to honor Zeus for granting him military victory over the city-state of Elis.
The stadion was a running event spanning 600 feet (182.9 meters). It was the only Olympic event from 776 B.C. until 724 B.C.
While the marathon has its roots in ancient Greece, it wasn't a part of the ancient Olympics. The ultra-endurance, 26.2 mile (42.4 kilometer) jaunt wasn't added to the Olympic line-up until the end of the 19th century.
Both winners of more than three events and brazen cheaters could get their likeness taken in a statue as a result. While the statues of big winners were placed in the temple of Zeus at Olympia, brazen cheaters were punished by getting their statues placed in a hall of shame.
Although young virgins were free to watch, married women would be put to death if they were caught watching the games. Historians aren't sure why, however.
The Ekecheiria was a truce calling for a military cease-fire among all spectators and athletes. Because participants traveled from all corners of the Greek world to compete, it became necessary to protect them from the sometimes treacherous paths they traversed through hostile towns -- as well as the hostile politics they occasionally encountered at the games.
In 393 A.D., the Christian emperor Theodosius banned the Olympic Games for their promotion of polytheism. However, many believe the games were fated to end as scandals, inequalities, bribery and cheating tarnished the honor of the games.
The first Olympic committee thought it proper to pay homage to the founder of the games by holding them in Greece first.