July 29, 2020
New Book by Dr. Reyes Bertolín Cebrián
In the world of sports, the most important component is the athlete. After all, without athletes there would be no sports. In ancient Greece, athletes were public figures, idolized and envied. This fascinating book draws on a broad range of ancient sources to explore the development of athletes in Greece from the archaic period to the Roman Empire.
Whereas many previous books have focused on the origins of the Greek games themselves, or the events or locations where the games took place, this volume places a unique emphasis on the athletes themselves—and the fostering of their athleticism. Moving beyond stereotypes of larger-than-life heroes, Reyes Bertolín Cebrián examines the experiences of ordinary athletes, who practiced sports for educational, recreational, or professional purposes.
According to Bertolín Cebrián, the majority of athletes in ancient times were young men and mostly single. Similar to today, most athletes practiced sport as part of their schooling. Yet during the fifth century B.C., a major shift in ancient Greek education took place, when the curriculum for training future leaders became more academic in orientation. As a result, argues Bertolín Cebrián, the practice of sport in the Hellenistic period lost its appeal to the intellectual elite, even as it remained popular with large sectors of the population. Thus, a gap emerged between the “higher” and “lower” cultures of sport.
In looking at the implications of this development for athletes, whether high-performing or recreational, this erudite volume traverses such wide-ranging fields as history, literature, medicine, and sports psychology to recreate—in compelling detail—the life and lifestyle of the ancient Greek athlete.
The Athlete in the Ancient Greek World, University of Oklahoma Press