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barca

Theodosius and the Olympic Games

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Here's an interesting article suggesting Theodosius saved Rome by establishing a theocracy:

 

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2004/aug19.html

 

I don't necessarily agree with the tone of the article, but it's good for provoking discussion.

Maybe, or maybe not.

The article is just dogmatic Christian apologetics; any Roman Christian act was good because it was done by a Christian.

 

Historical facts were deliberately distorted; the Olympic games (and the Akademia, and the vestal fire, and all religious practices from Pagans, Arians and Jews) were forbidden not for the violence of the Pankration (which was in any case no Christian business) but because they were religious practices not from the Nicean Christianity; period.

 

Theodosius himself never denied his religious motivations; in any case, he had no problem with many violent manifestations against Pagan, Jews and heretics, and even against the orthodox Christians, like the famous massacre of Thessalonika.

Edited by sylla

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This act is no different from the distruction of the Serapaeum, the disfigurement of classical statues or the dynamiting of the Bamiyan Buddhas. Small minded men erasing something which displeases their own particular celestial friend. Justifiable to themselves, a puzzle or a crime to everyone else.

 

I find this article enigmatic because of one statement towards the end. Although a Christian website it states that:

 

'we moderns have revived the Games without all this mythological nonsense. Or have we? Consider our present-day Olympian anthem:

 

"Ancient Immortal Spirit, chaste Father of all that is Beauty, Grandeur and Truth Descending appear with Thy presence Illumine Thine Earth and the Heavens. Shine upon noble endeavors wrought at the Games on Track and in the Field

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This act is no different from the distruction of the Serapaeum, the disfigurement of classical statues or the dynamiting of the Bamiyan Buddhas. Small minded men erasing something which displeases their own particular celestial friend. Justifiable to themselves, a puzzle or a crime to everyone else.

 

I find this article enigmatic because of one statement towards the end. Although a Christian website it states that:

 

'we moderns have revived the Games without all this mythological nonsense. Or have we? Consider our present-day Olympian anthem:

 

"Ancient Immortal Spirit, chaste Father of all that is Beauty, Grandeur and Truth Descending appear with Thy presence Illumine Thine Earth and the Heavens. Shine upon noble endeavors wrought at the Games on Track and in the Field

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Probably not even so; given the context of this article, the author is most likely considering that the anthem is adressed to Zeus only.

Hmmm, I never thought of that. I find it odd that the writers of this article should accuse others of subscribing to 'mythological nonsense'.

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No, I don't agree that it was justified.

 

I've read that the modern Olympics have been hugely influenced by the Nazis. It was they who came up with the idea of the Olympic torch for instance, but many people consider it an Ancient Greek tradition, something the Classicist Mary Beard discusses here - Olympics.

 

I don't like the tone of that article either, and while I don't believe that Christianity played a pivotal role in the fall of Roman Civilisation (like Edward Gibbon), I do think it had a damaging effect on the Empire, especially in terms of culture and personal freedom.

Edited by DecimusCaesar

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The games had an obvious pagan connection at a time when sports competition were not usual.

Also the attention to the body that sports represent was not acceptable to christians as proven by the changes in art in the same period.

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No, I don't agree that it was justified.

 

I've read that the modern Olympics have been hugely influenced by the Nazis. It was they who came up with the idea of the Olympic torch for instance, but many people consider it an Ancient Greek tradition, something the Classicist Mary Beard discusses here - Olympics.

 

I don't like the tone of that article either, and while I don't believe that Christianity played a pivotal role in the fall of Roman Civilisation (like Edward Gibbon), I do think it had a damaging effect on the Empire, especially in terms of culture and personal freedom.

 

Although the Nazi party later on made extensive use of the imagery in Leni's film I'm not sure if they can really claim to have came up with the idea as the first modern use of the Olympic flame was at the 1928 Amsterdam games. :D

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