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Power Games: Ritual and Rivalry at the Ancient Greek Olympics Paperback – 6 Feb 2012

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: British Museum Press; 01 edition (6 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714122726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714122724
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 2 x 17.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 503,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


'David Stuttard can make language crack and spark like an electric storm.' --Yorkshire Evening Press

'[Stuttard's] prose is admirably direct and accessible.' --The Guardian

Stuttard s writing is immensely readable and engaging. Empathetic descriptions of the often rather unpleasant- conditions for spectators and competitiors are interspersed with clear factual descriptions of the site and the events, as well as interludes of telescoped history from before and after 416BC which help to contextualize and explain the events themselves. --BBC History Magazine

From the Inside Flap

Featuring fresh translations of ancient sources, alongside vivid eye-witness accounts and lively anecdotes, 'Power Games' showcases the rituals, official banquets, victory celebrations and political parleys that took place amidst the astounding athletic achievements of the ancient Greek Games.

With the London 2012 Olympics drawing ever closer, this timely and absorbing tale will shed new light on the Olympic tradition.

A thrilling and exciting read - This gripping narrative presents ancient history in a unique and accessible way.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
With exquisite timing David has produceda a fascinating book on the Ancient Olympics. I think his idea of focussing on one particular Olympics - the one in 416 BC with all its political infighting and influence on Athenian and Greek history is brilliant - though along the way he gives an incisive insight into the history and relevance of the games over ther entire lifespan.Although he gives us all the facts he also gives us a lot of help in interpreting the facts - as he points out it is very difficult for us to see the facts through the eyes of Greeks in the 5th Century BC as our collective mindset has changed so much. Besides it's serious import it is also a cracking good read - I could hardly put it down - not often you can say that about history books! Would be of great value to enthuse schoolkids over history and Classics - but I guess few do Greek History at school nowadays - could be good for a project thoug in this Olympis yearto give them a firm background to this historic events. Also I hope it is sold at all the Olympics sites as it deserves to be a best seller.
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By Keen Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER on 28 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a most interesting book, published by the British Museum, so full of wonderful illustrations which accompany the text. The book recreates the Olympic Games of 416 BC and is very enlightening as to the seriousness of the competition that took place at these four-yearly events. The political background to the particular Games of 416 BC is explained, and in particular the role that was to be taken at the Games by Alcibiades, somewhat of an agitator in the Athenian political realm, and right in the mix of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta and their allies that was taking place at the time. A countdown to the Games, and then a day by day narration of the activities that took place follows. This is nail-biting stuff; and really brings home the way that the Greeks used these Games, under truce, to really show the superiority of their own city-state and their own warriors/athletes. These Games, and their aftermath, make for an enthralling read. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
If you've read Stuttard's earlier work, written with Sam Moorhead on the events leading to the sack of Rome in 410AD, you'll be familiar already with the fluidity of his style, conjuring vivid images, and wondering out loud to spur the imagination.
This volume gets off to a brilliant start, and is once more presented with a genuine verve that should hook the casual reader, while awakening the passions of the more knowledgeable for what is a fascinating subject. The effervescent vigour on show in the opening pages signals that this will be no dry catalogue of scholarship, but rather more of an enlightening entertainment. I hadn't imagined a description of a sacred rite, a European one at that, in such sensual terms. The prose, rather like the ivory skin of the statue it describes, 'glowing with supernal life', sets the tone for the games to come like no opening ceremony I can remember in the modern olympics!
Power Games is offered not as a compendious history of a festival which endured for centuries, but rather as an account of the games of 416BC. But it's worth pointing out that this serves to provide a perspective on games both before and after that year, as well as the particularity of a case study. We're never far either from a careful revealing of the tradition, nor from the gossipy context of the day. Stuttard is as comfortable in the role of sports journalist as he is as political commentator.
His narrative would easily stand up on its own, though the references and recommendations for further reading seem to me exhaustive. As in 410AD, the text is accompanied by numerous colour illustrations from the peerless collections of the British Museum. These, however, are a mixed blessing in the format of the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9abe25c8) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
HASH(0x99a035c4) out of 5 stars Thirteen bursts of adrenalin, thirteen winners - but that seems to be all 6 Feb. 2014
By Sceptique500 - Published on
Format: Paperback
As much as the author loved writing about the Parthenon – the elegant rhythm of the language there tells it all – as much one gets the feeling that this book was a bit of a chore for him. The language is uneven, suddenly rising to Pindaric heights when describing a game, dry to businesslike at others. Some points are made again and again (yes, so much adrenalin, and yes, we got the point: the Greek civilization was different from ours, and for the Greeks winning was everything), as if he was at loss for something to say. There is a legion of “perhaps” stalking the pages – inevitable, of course, but tedious.

The author chose to zoom in on just one of the Olympic events, that of 416 BC, which provided the backdrop to Alcibiades’ antics in Athens. Politicking was certainly part of the Games, but it was collateral to them, and mostly hidden. There is little fact to go on, and the story meanders for lack of a clear story line. More cogently, using a macro-lens does is not quite satisfactory. It is a bit like seeing flocks of starlings fly their breath-taking evolutions at dusk, but wanting to explain the phenomenon by zeroing in on just one of the birds.

The Olympic games may have been the oldest ones in Greece, but others had emerged. Periodic athletic games seem to have been a specialty of the Greek world. What is surprising is that winners came from anywhere, any size town, including far away locations. In fact, it was a way of life, affording even poor youngsters a chance to emerge socially. Exploring this larger framework of the games over time would have given a better sense of what went on beyond the 13 races and the religious ceremonies. Here FINLEY is far superior. I’d strongly recommend this book instead.
HASH(0x99a83b40) out of 5 stars Like us, there was cheating though you'd be banned ... 9 April 2016
By dlh - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ancient games had no commercial establishments for baths, beds or toilets. Like us, there was cheating though you'd be banned for life.
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