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                                Olympic Games - The Greek Gods Creation - Herakles
Herakles and the cretan bull


Depiction of Herakles and the Cretan Bull


The Greeks themselves ascribed Olympic origin to more exalted beings — the Greek gods -. One of the wonders of the Greek civilization was that, unlike all predecessors in history, the Greeks did not worship celestial bodies, natural elements, or weird animals as gods. The Greeks, unique in tumbling the fierce gods of Assyrians and Egyptians from their deified animalistic pedestals, created their own gods in the form of human beings.
The Greek gods were the first to be endowed and invested with the fun and foibles of human beings, fashioned in the magnificent bodily forms of men and women. The Greek gods were created in the likeness of the people of Greece. Greek Gods and men had a kinship and felt comfortable with each other.
Therefore, it was only natural that any great event should be attributed to a god, or demigod. Pindar, a great poet of Greece, in his famous Eleventh Olympic Ode to victory, says that the Games began at the dawn of man's life on earth. He claimed the Games were started by Herakles (the Roman Hercules ), son of Zeus. One day an impudent, upstart mortal named Augeas made disparaging remarks about Zeus, and so angered Herakles, the original muscle-man, that he challenged Augeas to a wrestling match. Meeting on the flat alluvial plain formed between the two rivers Kladeos and Alpheos, Herakles gave Augeas the drubbing he deserved. The wrestling match was historic! Both wrestlers "had muscles which bulged to the thickness of a man's arm," and were so strong "each could crack the neck of the strongest man." The battle raged as each threw the other, and grimaced in pain from the half nelsons and other torturous holds secured. For hours they fought until their massive muscles were strained to the utmost; until joints bid fair to be pulled from their sockets. But Herakles, the master of all, bested his adversary, leaving him a senseless mass of quivering flesh on the ground.
After the battle, the giant Herakles walked around a large area, dragging a stick behind him. The rectangular arena marked off by the stick he called the Altis, a sanctuary dedicated to Zeus, the chief of all gods. Having marked off the Altis, Herakles decreed that a temple of finest marble should be built to honor Zeus, and should be staffed with priests the year around. Furthermore, he ordered that another building, placed to the north of the Temple of Zeus, should be called the Prytaneion, the priests' council house; it should contain an ever-burning fire of Hestia, the mild-mannered goddess of hearth, home, and fire, and daughter of Zeus.
Not content with heaping such honor upon his father, Herakles stated that every four years games should be held in honor of Zeus. The finest athletes with the fairest of masculine physiques should meet at Olympia for sporting events.
Like all gods, and all athletes, Herakles wished to make known to posterity his own prowess, so he ordered a fine statue to be cast in bronze and set up in the Altis, in commemoration of his victory over the lowly mortal, Augeas.





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