Olympia

Sports Center of Greece

As we observed when we mentioned Delphi, with the descend of the Dorians in the 12th century B.C. the reorganizing of the basic shrines within the Greek region begins, centered around Delphi, without however abolishing the secondary sites.
In image 13 of the 1st Part of the book Holy Sacramental Journey to Greece, aside from the connections of the shrines, we should also see how the basic sanctuaries are spread out, namely those the echo of which reaches us even to this day and age; which however are not city-states and serve a particular purpose. These are: Olympus, the Necromanteion, Delphi, Eleusis, Delos, Epidaurus and Olympia. Namely 7 shrines, which for the Pythagoreans is the perfect number. Sacred sites, each of which plays a particular role within the Greek region. They are geographically scattered, but axially connected to each other with a certain proportionate distance; and this is quite reasonable because each site is part of a whole.
So there is a mythological kinship between these sites. Namely Zeus occupies the sacred sites of Olympus (Dion) and Olympia. His sister Demeter with their daughter Persephone are found in Eleusis, while Persephone is also found in the Necromanteion with the brother of Zeus, Hades. The son of Zeus Apollo occupies Delos with his sister Artemis, and with his brother Dionysus he occupies Delphi, while the grandson of Zeus, Asclepius, the son of Apollo, is found in Epidaurus. These gods function as units, but also as duos, creating a system of balance.
From all of those gods Apollo comes second to Zeus, because he possesses Delphi, namely the administrative priestly center. When Zeus struck Asclepius, the son of Apollo, down with lightning, because he was raising the dead, Apollo took revenge by killing the Cyclopes who forged the divine lightning bolt. Thus Zeus punished Apollo and sent him to serve the king of Pherae of Thessaly, Admetus, who had him guard his herds, and that was the end of the quarrel. This means that Zeus remains above Apollo as the creator god.
Having a system where each god corresponds to his role, without the mythology being disproved or contradictory, is a quite difficult task; especially if we extend to the entire Mythological Pantheon, also including Astrology. So, besides fantasy, great planning by thousands of individuals is required, who possess exceptionally strong memory, since they did not have the technological aid of computers in order to be able to live up to their task, without disturbing the “world” of the believers of the city-states.

Olympia, like the Necromanteion, is located in the western part of Greece. As we noticed at a previous point, according to image XVIII, Delos (City of Light) and Epidaurus (113th Olympic Games) are located on the side of the gate of the gods, in the eastern part of Greece, where the souls ascend, like the Sun. In the western part of Greece, the souls descend like the Sun, to be reincarnated, according to the Platonic philosophers. So then, since this celebration was held in honor of dead heroes, like Pelops who organized the Olympic Games and Heracles thanks to whom the games started to be held again after they had fallen into decline, this also means the theoretical participation of the heroes in the games, as reincarnated athletes. This is also evident in the case of Alexander but also Pyrrhus, who imitated Heracles against Rome which had the form of the Lernaean Hydra. That is why they were held every four years, during the full moon, after the Summer Solstice, during the month Hekatombaion (July-August), when the Sun in its descending course, passes through the zodiac of Leo, which symbolized the Nemean Lion, namely the first labor of Heracles (image 5, photo I).
We observe then, how reasonably the Olympic games are defined, where the myth is accompanied by its corresponding zodiac sign which is also the beginning of the labors of Heracles, namely Heracles begins with his labors based on the “Unit”. Apollo according to the Pythagoreans was the Unit, namely the Sun which transitioned through the zodiac of Leo, but also Zeus because he was the beginning of everything, namely the guardian god of Olympia, but also the beginning of the yearly calendar. They used to call the unit Hearth or fire, namely the flame we get with mirrors from the rays of the Sun. They also called the Unit Chaos, darkness, chasm, Tartarus or Styx, which has to do with the chthonic character of the Olympic games.
In order for the athlete to enter the stadium he would go under the “crypt”, which indicates a hiding place or an underground unseen place. The crypt was an archway (consecutive arches) which started at the Lodge of Sound, a fact that points us to the logic of the Theater, where the sound originates in the chthonic space through the Chaeronian scale ( Theater of Dion). Consequently the Stadium is the chthonic space, where the victor, emerging again from the crypt, functions pretty much like Heracles (see Necromanteion in Land of the Dead), when he visited Hades and fought Cerberus, whom he brought back in chains to present to Eurystheus. This archway, but also the arch, will become in later times, the Arcs of Triumph. The victor then, emerging triumphant from the crypt, is like he is beating death. Thus he gains more prestige in the eyes of the people who see him pass through and he himself becomes a symbol and a demigod. The city of the victor then, has no need of walls, which it symbolically demolishes, in order fro their demigod, the new Heracles, to enter the city.
According to Hippias of Elis (400 B.C.), the first officially established Olympic Games, took place in 776 B.C., reorganized by the legislator of Sparta Lycurgus and Cleisthenes of Pisa, by order of the king of Elis, Iphitus. They were abolished by Theodosius I in 393 A.D.
The presence of Heracles in the space of Olympia reasonably brings about the presence of his father Zeus, who, through the games of his son recognizes the games of the Greeks in this space. The three month “Truce” then is the proposal of the Priesthood so that the tribal disputes end and the struggle to become an athletic event without casualties.
The three months of the truce was the time needed by the athlete of even the most remote colony, to reach Olympia to compete and leave without any problems. In the 5th century, the population of the 3.000 colonies reached at least 9 million inhabitants; including Greece, the population of the Greek world was roughly 15-20 millions, when Egypt had 8 millions. Namely we are dealing with a population that in today’s standards would be about 250-300 millions. Opening a map of the colonies, let us imagine all of these movements of the athletes. During this period there was a general excitement in all of the Mediterranean and the region of the Black Sea, directed to Olympia. Athletes, friends and relatives, alongside the representatives of the city-states, struggled with the waves for three months. They stopped in intermediary stations along the way, talked, laughed, traded views. The entire Greek world was set in motion, because viewers from everywhere flocked there. The rest of the world, the so-called “Barbarians”, saw, listened, but did not understand why someone would go there to receive an olive wreath.
The issue however is, that this way Olympia became a vast information center, through a language (like the Internet), connected to 3.000 service providing centers, where the actor was human memories. This way the Greek world achieved greatness. Whoever reached Olympia, would find his world there and with him he would bring samples of his achievements abroad, pretty much like the migrating Greek of America does nowadays. So then, Herodotus (484-420 B.C.) did not have to travel to gather information; it was enough to ask a colonist, on his way to Olympia. In any case, through this process the Greek knew everything. So then, Olympia was not just an athletic center, but also an information center, with a radius of at least 2.500 kilometers. Otherwise we would not be talking about Hellenism today, after the pressure of the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires.
This information was spread by those attending the games in every direction within Greece. As far as the North, Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace, where the athletes and visitors came from-most of them by sea, because we should consider that the journey by land from Athens took at least five days.
All of the city-states were interested in knowing what existed in these foreign lands, in order to organize trading missions. It was the source of information of the clergy which directed colonization, beyond scouting missions, like the Argonautic campaign. After that the processing of information and the exchange of views started, the conclusion of deals, the re-connection with the Metropolis and many more. So when all of these people left for the faraway colonies, took along with the soil of the homeland, new commercial ideas. This led the trading city-states to develop banking systems of loans, interests, checks and remittances. Athens as early as the 5th century B.C. had may bankers outside of the city, in the colonies, such as Alexandria where the Athenian currency was in large circulation. Otherwise the system of colonies developed by the Greek world would not be able to function. Thus, as P.Leveque mentions, the colonies managed to change the inland, like in Egypt of the Ptolemies, which was in the neolithic era. The Greeks brought about the agricultural and husbandry revolution, thanks to the import of iron tools and all kinds of new plants or animals, like fig trees, pomegranates, walnut trees, but also garlic, sheep and donkeys.
Therefore we should not view the site of Olympia through the narrow context of the athletic games. Because if that was the case, the Olympic games would be held nowadays permanently in Greece, while in fact there is a “battle” to determine who is going to undertake the organizing of the event. And of course we are referring to a people which based on its commercial spirit, spread out to all of the shores of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, primarily to trade.

When any night of the year, in the clear sky, we observe the multitude of constellations with the naked eye, all that we shall see, except for some for which we need the aid of a telescope, are about the Greek Mythology, with the shape and the actions of it’s gods and heroes. So, for 365 days a year the population of Greece sees in its sky the astral contribution of their ancestors to all of the peoples of the earth. In a circular correspondence of the Pan-Hellenic sanctuaries. And naturally it is unthinkable whether man will ever be able to reach these constellations. The sacred centers may be destroyed, but all this celestial dome remains eternally there.
So then when the summer of the Olympics arrives, we shall also see the constellation of Heracles (image 5) fighting the Lernaean Hydra (Draco constellation), according to Eudoxus, which is about his second labor.

image 5 – Constellation of Hydra (Draco constellation)

All of the celebrations mentioned, started with the full moon, which appeared in each zodiac through which it completed its phases (Moon phases), following the attic lunar calendar or the lunar-solar calendar of the Macedonians. That is why Greece did not have a unified calendar. And all of this without the aid of computers.
There are two important characteristics of the sacred site: The one was that the games were not limited only to men, but there were also women games, where only virgins were are allowed to compete in. They competed in a 160 meter race, that is why the temple of Hera of 600 B.C. exists. As far as the men were concerned, after they swore an Oath to Zeus Horkios on the first day, on the second day there was a children race, wrestling, boxing and pankration. On the third day there were chariot races and the pentathlon (jumping, discus throw, stadium, javelin throw and wrestling). On the fourth day there were the men sporting events of racing, wrestling, boxing, pankration and shield racing. The last day was reserved for awarding the winners and for the sacrifices to the gods.
The other characteristic was the Zanes, namely bronze statues of Zeus which were placed before the entrance of the stadium, funded by the fines of those who broke the Games rules.

image XIX

The temples of Hera and Zeus axially face Delos (image XIX), recreating the myth of the birth of Apollo. But aside from the temples, offerings, altars, statues and treasuries (small buildings where precious offerings to the sacred sites were kept), Olympia also possessed a well organized athletic infrastructure, with a gymnasium for the training of the athletes, a wrestling ring, guesthouse, the so called Leonidaion, the prytaneion for housing foreign important visitors, a bouleuterion for the political and social operation of the site and the Hellanodikaion for the Hellanodikai who judged the result of the games.

In the 2nd century B.C., the Olympics decline under the poor management of the civilization by the Diadochi of the Hellenistic period, who promoted the Games held in their own newly founded states. During this period, frugality is replaced by luxury and the political promotion of the king. So they were turned from games of worship to games of spectacle, that is why new athletic events were added and the athletes gradually became professionals. During the first period of the Roman conquest (146 B.C.), there were serious damage and pillaging like that of Sulla, but later on during the Imperial era, Olympia regained its former prestige, with many building projects, without however the athletic ideal of the pre-Hellenistic era returning. The celebrations continue until 393 B.C. when Theodosius I forbids them and in 426 B.C. Theodosius II orders the destruction of the temples.

113th Olympic Games

ROUTE INFORMATION – T.B.D. : Spring 2019

Central Greece

Historic Landmarks

  • Delos
  • Epidaurus
  • Olympia

4/5 Culture Shock

Total Length TBD km

7 Riding Days

Intermediate Skills Level

45% Offroad

Hotels and (1) Camping

National Forest of TBD

Middle May – Middle October

FAQ

Packing List

Lodging

Rent A Ride

Service

Brochure (coming soon)

We were learning about the news of Alexander from the Olympian Zeus, without Hera knowing. 2.000 Indians had been killed, the two sons of Porus among them. Porus riding his richly decorated elephant continued to issue commands and Alexander was admiring him, trying to save his life, but his old horse Bucephalus collapses in fatigue. Afterward Alexander treated Porus like royalty and gave him his kingdom back to rule and while he was ready to march to the depths of India, his army was unwilling to follow him.
Father Zeus himself had faced similar circumstances when Hera, Athena and Poseidon tried to chain him. Thankfully the goddess Thetis sent Aegaeon (Aegaeon and his brothers Gyges and Cottus are described as huge monsters with a hundred arms, also named Hecatoncheires) to rescue him. Of course Zeus does not intervene in the case of Alexander, pretty much like in the case of Heracles, because he has to solve his problem on his own, otherwise what kind of demigod would he be?
All this is fine, but look we was seeing Syros again and then Kea, on our right side this time around, while on our left we could see the island of Thermia or Ophiussa Thiramnia (Kythnos), known for its healing springs. It was the prehistoric home of the Dryopes. When their land, Dryopis, which was a region of Oeta and Parnassus, was taken over by the Dorians, they fled to Euboea, Argolis, Thermia and Asia Minor. This island too was an ally of Athens.

There the temple of Poseidon emerges on our right; that is why there were so many dolphins in the area. They say that this temple is turned in such a way that it faces towards Atlantis, where the god had a great altar. Plato used to talk about this lost island and then everybody tried to find it. I know a verse about the son of Poseidon, Atlas, whom he had with Cleito.

And the tall pillars on which the earth
he lifts
reach the starry dome and support the spheres
and support the spheres.

But there we are finally in Argolis, which was named after the son of Zeus and Niobe, Argos. It was the prehistoric residence of the Dryopes. Nearby, a mere seven kilometers from the Saronic Gulf, is the Sanctuary of Asclepius.

Epidaurus

Hospital Center of Greece

So we entered the temple of Asclepius, a work by Theodotus, in 380-375 B.C. The god, made out of gold and ivory, was sitting on a throne, with his trusted dog on his right and the snake on the left. Leaving the richly decorated temple, a work by Thrasymedes, Hectorides and Timotheus, we arrived to the Tholos or Thymele, which had three circular zones at its base under the floor. A white stone in the center covered the entrance to the crypt. This was a work by Polykleitos, the nephew of the sculptor Polykleitos and it took him 30 years to complete it (360-330 B.C.). A very beautiful project! We stood there and admired it for a while. In the meanwhile we went in the crypt of the labyrinth, where the tomb of Asclepius was.
We departed leaving behind us (on the right) mount Arachnaio, through the Phryctoria of which the Myceneans were informed about the fall of Troy. This route to Olympia was a totally different route because we was passing over cities lying between Myth and History.
We were passing over Tiryns, the most ancient acropolis of Myceneans which Homer calls it “Walled”, with its cyclopean walls, built from boulders of ten tons or more; like lifting an elephant and placing it on top of another one. Placed on the top of the acropolis was the palace of the anax, who held worldly and priestly offices, with the typical throne room where the hearth was in the middle of four pillars representing the elements of matter.
Further to the right there was Midea, which was built by Perseus and was the homeland of Alcmene, the mother of Heracles. We were passing over Argos on our left, the Homeland of Perseus who was its hero and the son of Zeus and Danae, the daughter of the king of Argos Acrisius. Danae was impregnated by the god, who had transformed into golden rain. What an imagination this god has, we thought. Argos, which means “plain”, was the most ancient city in Greece, and was inhabited by the Pelasgians, with its acropolis being Larissa. This city had lost its prestige when Tiryns and Mycenae were built, which were located 14 kilometers to my right.
Mycenae was the most famous city of prehistoric Greece. Homer calls it “rich” and it was a pioneer in the financial and cultural life of Greece, mainly in the 13th century B.C. Their king was the well-known Agamemnon, the leader of the campaign against Troy, whose daughter had to be sacrificed in Aulis, but was rescued by Artemis who made her a priestess in Tauris.
From the left we had passed Lerna, where Heracles performed his second labor, killing the Lernaean Hydra, a spawn of Typhoon and Echidna. Just a few kilometers away from Lerna, lies Nauplia (Nafplio), which was founded by the son of Amymone and Poseidon, Nauplius. Passing by mount Artemision, where there was a temple of Artemis, we were now entering Arcadia, the inhabitants of which, whom we meet constantly, were called Pelasgians.
I had been through Oenoe, the city of Oeneus, who met his doom there by his brother Agrius, and we were passing by Mantineia which was founded by Mantineus, the son of the king of the Arcadians, Lycaon. Lycaon was the son of Pelasgus and the Oceanid Meliboea or the Nymph Cyllene according to others, who succeeded his father on the throne. In a distance of about 10 kilometers to the right there was another city founded by another son of Lycaon, Orchomenus, while on our left, in a distance of 15 km we could see Tegea , a rival of Mantineia, which was founded by Aleus, son of Apheidas, who established in the area the worship of Alea Athena, thus uniting the inhabitants of his region.
After we left the sacred mountain of Pan, Hermes, Dionysus, the Maenads, Artemis, Atalanta and the Dryads, and mount Mainalo, we entered among the cities; Methydrio, a bit further Orchomenos and to the left the town of Schinus, where Atalanta used to put anyone who wanted to marry her, through a race as a test, Hippomenes won with the aid of Aphrodite. After passing from the ancient locations of Theisoa, Teuthis, Melenai,Heraia and Frixa, crossing the rivers of Ladon and Eurymathus, we reached Pisa.
Pisa is located east of Olympia and was in the forefront of the performance of the Olympic games. Its inhabitants founded Pisa (Pisa) of Italy. It is the place where Pelops and Hippodamea, the daughter of the king of Pisa Oenomaus, who was the son of Ares and one of the daughters of Asopus, Harpina, ruled. Oenomaus who was negotiating about his daughter’s wedding, would compete with the aspiring grooms in chariot racing. But he always won and took the life of the suitors, until the time when his daughter fell in love with Pelops. With the help of Hippodamea and malicious intent the axis of her fathers chariot broke and he died. So Pelops married Hippodamea.
Pelops was the son of Tantalus who ruled over Phrygia. Tantalus was the son of Zeus and the daughter of Cronus, Plouto. He killed his son Pelops, cut him in small pieces, cooked him and offered his meat to the gods. The gods realized it and restored him to life, Tantalus on the other hand was sent to Hades by Zeus and was sentenced to suffer from eternal hunger and thirst. Pelops was the one who organized the Olympic games. When he died, his remains were transported from Pisa to Troy, during the Trojan War. Later when the games were in decline, Heracles came along, delimited the precinct of “Altis” (Grove) and dedicated it to his father Zeus: he even built 6 altars for the twelve gods of Olympus and a shrine for Pelops. I learned about all this before I sat on the roof of the temple of Zeus.

Olympia

Sports Center of Greece

We would have stayed longer in Olympia, if I hadn’t received a new order from Zeus, a pretty sad one this time around. It said that Alexander would die in the 13th of June of 323 B.C., and that we should receive him from the Psychron Cave (Diktaio Andro), where his soul would be delivered by the primordial eagle of Zeus. Zeus knew everything before it happened, but he loved Alexander very much and wanted him by his side in Olympus, to gaze from above his beloved Macedonians. The life of Alexander grew even shorter, as time moved on, in the age of 33 years old.
So we drove south, by the Bouleuterion. In a while we would leave Alfeios behind us and found ourselves at mount Aphrodision, where Demeter had her sanctuary. We were descending towards the mountain range of Alivaina (Minthi) and suddenly we was on mount Lykaion, after we reached the temple of Apollo in Bassae.

Zeus’s Homeland

ROUTE INFORMATION – T.B.D. : Spring 2019

Central Greece

Historic Landmarks

  • Ideo Andro
  • Diktaio Andro

3/5 Culture Shock

Total Length 400 km

5 Riding Days

Intermediate Skills Level

35% Offroad

Hotels and (1) Camping

National Forest of TBD

Middle May – Middle October

FAQ

Packing List

Lodging

Rent A Ride

Service

Brochure (coming soon)

In mount Lykaion Lycaon, the son of Pelasgus who was a violent king in Arcadia, offered Zeus the flesh of a child alongside other dishes, Like Tantalus did. So Zeus transformed him into a wolf and sent a deluge to destroy the human race. Customary human sacrifices to Zeus Lycaeus, whose temple was near the temple of Apollo were performed on this mountain. Further along the way I come across Lycosura, the most ancient city in the world, founded by Lycaon, the Lykaia date to the Mycenaean period, between 1398 and 1294 B.C.
The son of Lycaon, Phigalus, had founded Phigaleia, a city we had passed on our right. It was the place where king Lepreus died by the hand of Heracles because he had provoked him. It is also the place where Eurynome, the daughter of Oceanus and Tetis, who was a mermaid, was celebrated. On our left we had passed from the city Alifiera, where it was said that Athena was born from the head of Zeus. Slightly above there was the city of Melainai and then Maratha and Boufagion, but also Gortys.
Gortys was named after the son of Stymphalus, Gortys. Stymphalus was the husband of Ornis and father of the Stymphalian birds, which Heracles killed near the lake Stymphalia, under mount Kyllini (Ziria), the birthplace of Hermes, the psychopomp son of Zeus and Maia, who was a daughter of Atlas.
Beneath Gortys, Vrenthi near Trapezous and Trikolonoi which were founded by the eponymous sons of Lycaon. In Trikolonoi there was the tomb of the Nymph Callisto, daughter of king Lycaon who, had Arcas with Zeus. Arcas ruled over and gave his name to Arcadia and his first son was Elatus who founded Elateia and Phocis.
Bellow Trapezous, was the town the town Basilis and then Thocnia, which was founded by another son of Lycaon, Thocnus. Opposite Lycosura was Megalopolis, where they worshiped the hero Boreus who protected them from the Lacedaemons. It was in this city that the Furies (Erinyes) appeared before Orestes and terrified him. From there on the towns became more scarce as we were advancing towards mount Taygetus, so after a long time, on our left we passed from the town Peraithei, Asea founded by Aseas, the son of Lycaon and Orestio where Orestes waited, by order of Apollo to be tried in the Court of Cassation of Athens. Upon entering Laconia, I came across Pellana, on the shores of the river Eurotas, father of Sparta.

image XX

At a distance of 8 kilometers from Sparta (image XX) lies its sacred center, Amyclae, where the new god Apollo, competes with the hero of Megalopolis Boreus, for the love of Hyacinthus, who was the son of Amyclas. In this competition, Boreus changes the course of the discus in the contest of discus throw and hits Hyacinthus in the face, whose grave is now found In the Sanctuary of Apollo in Amyclae.
In this place Tyndareus, the father of Helen, Castor and Pollux and Clytemnestra, was planning the marriage of Helen, for the sake of whom the Trojan War was fought. She chose Menelaus, who would take the kingdom of Tyndareus after the death of Castor and Pollux.
Menelaus was the brother of Agamemnon and son of Atreus, the king of Mycenae, from the line of Pelops who organized the Olympic games. Agamemnon had married the sister of Helen, Clytemnestra and became the king of Mycenae. Iphigenia was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra.
After this multi-sided relation, with various big problems, we were passing swiftly, having Therapnes on our left, where the palace of Menelaus and Helen was located. It was from here that the two lovers, Paris and Helen left, taking with them her son Pleisthenes, the mother of Theseus Aethra, slaves and plenty of gold. After passing between the towns Krokees and Geronthres, we proceeded to the Myrtoan Sea, over the town Epidavros Limira having cape Maleas on our right, to where Heracles had pursued the Centaurs and killed the Centaur Chiron, the son of Cronus. That is why the pediments of the Parthenon depicting the Centauromachy face this way.
We had to fly for another 200 kilometers to the Psychron Cave. It was there in a cave that Zeus had been born; we would wait there together with Amalthea, the goat who had raised him, for the soul of Alexander.

Diktaio Andro

The Manger of God