Who Took Part in the Ancient Greek Olympic Games?

During the ancient Greek Olympic Games, only free, male citizens of Greece could participate in the events. No matter what their standing, whether senator, soldier or farmer, all males were eligible to participate. Women were not allowed to participate, and only unmarried women could even view the events in person; married women were forbidden.

The original run of the Olympic Games took place from 776 B.C. until 396 A.D., a brainchild of the then-ruler of Pisa, Iphotos, and a Spartan lawgiver named Lycurgus. The men who participated in the ancient Greek Olympic Game generally participated in the nude, and the event began with only a running event of between 180 and 240 meters in length. From there, other running races were included as were other events like boxing, chariot racing, discus throwing, horse racing, javelin throwing and long jumping. Winners were honored for the remainder of their lives, receiving accolades such as free homes and food.

It was considered an honor to compete in the Olympic Games, since the young men chosen usually represented their specific homeland, known as city-states, which included areas like modern-day Turkey and Sicily. As with the modern Games, the ancient Olympic Game took place every 4 years, and went on even if Greece was involved in wars at the time of the Games, calling a "sacred truce."