Power Games: Ritual and Rivalry at the Ancient Greek Olympics Paperback – 6 Feb 2012
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'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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.