Tuesday, 20 August 2013
Wrestling - From Ancient Greece to London 2013
My hubby is trying to persuade me to go to watch wrestling with him when the WWE UK tour 2013 comes to The O2 this November. Although I've never been a particular fan of wrestling myself, the sport does have pagan origins.
The Epic of Gilgamesh - the first heroic epic story recorded - apparently referred to a very early form of wrestling that was enjoyed by the Sumerians 5,000 years ago. Wrestling was also known in Ancient Egypt and archaeologists found it depicted on the walls of the tomb of Beni-Hassan.
For the Ancient Greeks, wrestling was a divine art as well as being the most popular organised sport. It was called Pále and there were two forms - upright Pále in which the object was to throw the opponent to the ground, and ground wrestling where the object was to get the opponent to admit defeat. The sport was considered a divine test of strength as represented in Greek mythology by Heracles. When the Olympic Games were founded in 776 BCE, held in honour of Zeus, there were originally just two events - a footrace and wrestling.
There were a few differences between Ancient Greek wrestling and the modern sports entertainment. Not only were the contestants expected to fight fair with no punches, biting, gouging or other naughtiness allowed, they were also completely naked, their bodies just lightly anointed in olive oil.
Mind you, back then married women were not allowed to watch the sport - one reason I can be glad I live today rather than in Ancient Greece.
The photo at the top shows the base of a funerary kouros found in Athens, depicting wrestling. The picture was taken by Fingalos and is from the Wikimedia Commons.
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