Olympics: Herodotus recited history at the games

In Nuce: Nerd Alert

The 2012 London Olympics closed August 12, and the torch was passed to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic games. It's interesting to note the role the arts played, especially music, in opening and closing ceremonies designed to celebrate intensely physical activity. It wasn't just the world's best athletes striving for areté and glory, but also the world's best musicians, actors, authors, and other professions.

In ancient Greece, all that accompanied the cultivation of the mind was considered "music." 

Says Eschenburg:
The whole system of education among the Greeks was peculiarly calculated for the development and improvement of the powers of the body and of the mind in common. Gymnastics constituted an essential part of it, and was taught and practiced in the Gymnasia, or schools for bodily exercise. All that part of it, which related more specially to the cultivation of the mind, went under the term music, and in this comprehensive sense, the term is used by Plutarch and other ancient writers, when they speak of music as so indispensable in the education of the young and as exerting so great an influence on the temper and character. That such importance was not ascribed to mere music, as now understood, is the more evident from the fact, that among the Greeks music was united by an inseparable connection with song, poetry, rehearsals and imitative gestures.
Eschenburg quotes Anacharsis the Younger, a Scythian who arrived in Athens around the time of the forty-seventh Olympiad (4th century BC). Anacharsis writes:
A magistrate, named the gymnasiarch, presides at the different gymnasia of Athens. His office is annual, and conferred on him by the general assembly of the state. It is his duty to furnish the oil made use of by the athlete to give suppleness to their limbs. He has under him, in each gymnasium, several officers, such as the gymnastes, the paidotribes, and others; some of whom maintain order among the youth, and others teach them different exercises. At the head of these are ten sophronists, nominated by the ten tribes, to whom the superintendence of the morals of the youth is more especially committed, and all of whom must be approved by the Areopagus.
As it is of the greatest importance that confidence and security should prevail in the gymnasium, as well as in all numerous assemblies, thefts committed there are punished with death, when they exceed the value of ten drachmas. The gymnasia being deemed the asylum of innocence and modesty, Solon had prohibited the people from entering them, at the time when the scholars, celebrating a festival in honor of Mercury, were less under the eye of their preceptors; but this regulation has fallen into disuse.
The exercises practiced there are ordained by the laws, subject to certain regulations, and animated by the commendations of the masters, and still more by the emulation that subsists among the scholars. All Greece considers them as the most essential part of education, as they render men active, robust, and capable of supporting military labors, as well as the leisure hours of peace. Considered relatively to health, physicians prescribe them with success. Of their great utility in the military art, it is impossible to give a higher idea, than by citing the example of the Lacedemonians. To these exercises were they indebted for those victories which once made them so formidable to other nations; and, in later times, in order to conquer, it was first necessary to equal them in the gymnastic discipline.
Understanding the Greek attention to physical development helps us understand their equally intense emphasis on intellectual and artistic pursuits. Says Eschenburg:
...[M]usical contests, ... were regarded as among the most valuable means of intellectual improvement. The love of glory was stimulated by them, and became the moving spring of the most intense efforts. These contests exerted the greater influence from the circumstance of their being usually connected with public and festival occasions, especially with the four solemn games of the Greeks, the Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian and Nemean...
The competitors in these contests were required to possess natural abilities, long and laborious preparation, theoretical and practical knowledge of their art, a well modulated voice, and skill upon the musical instruments which accompanied the exercise, usually the lyre or harp. The order in which they performed was decided by lot, and their conduct during the contest was prescribed by fixed laws.
The name of the victor, the one to whom the judges assigned the prize, was proclaimed by a herald. His reward was a garland or wreath and public applause. Sometimes he received a medal, statue, or poem, dedicated to his honor.
On these occasions, not only did musicians and poets contend, but orators also made public their works; as, for example, Isocrates recited his Panegyric at the Olympic festival. Such recitals were sometimes called ; among them may be included what were called  public discussions of the sophists.
Even historians were allowed to engage in those exercises. We have an example in Herodotus, who is said to have recited his history at the Olympic games, in the hearing of Thucydides, then a mere youth.

 Source: Eschenburg

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