Culture and Society

Who was allowed to compete in the ancient Olympic Games?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. Only male citizens were allowed to compete in the ancient Olympic Games. Citizens were defined as men who voted and served in the military. In ancient Greece, citizens had occupations, and some of the greatest Olympic athletes had the humblest of jobs. One such participant, Koroibos, won the first stadion race and worked as a cook when he wasn't competing for Olympic fame. In the ancient Olympics, there was no distinction between professional and amateur athletes. What bound all the competitors together was their desire to strike it rich. Some of the more interesting prizes included clothing, animals, olive oil and women. Upon returning to their home city-states, victorious athletes were given cash prizes. However, athletes who were caught cheating at the Olympics were also immortalized - - they had their images carved into statues placed at the Olympic hall of shame, called the altis, which was located at the entrance to the stadium.

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