Eros vs. Ares : can the Ancient Olympic ideal of peace survive modern realities? / Heather Reid

Reid, Heather Lynne (1963-)

To the ancients, an Olympic victory was imagined as a visit from the winged goddess Nike, who swooped down from Olympus to briefly bless the mortal athlete with a divine crown of sacred olive. To us moderns, Olympic victory is more likely to be associated with Nike, the multi-national mega-company, which swoops down from Wall Street to briefly bless the athlete with a fat paycheck and temporary status as a corporate shill. Just as the corporate Nike differs from the goddess after whom it is named, the modern Olympic Games differ in important ways from the ancient festival that inspired them. For one thing, they are a mere century long flash in the pan compared with the millennium-long history of the ancient festival. If the ancient philosophical foundations of Olympism are allowed to crumble, the slick modern festival will come crashing down just as fast. The strength of the Olympic Games, ancient and modern, derives from the ideals that inspire them. To preserve the spirit of Olympism, we must come to understand its philosophical ideals.

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