Now that the Beijing Olympics are fading into memory, how about competing in the Pythian Games, the pan-Hellenic precursors to the Olympics we know today? Obviously we can do this only in our imaginations, but a visit to Delphi, where the games were held — especially in the early morning before the crowds arrive — can stimulate dreams of ancient glory. It all began this way for Tim O’Reilly on a recent trip:

“I ran the 100 yard dash in the Pythian Games. I came in last, of course. Even though the echoes of other runners were only in my imagination, I wouldn’t want to take away any of their glory. (I’m also realistic about my foot speed :-))

“But what a thrill it was to race down the track where the Pythian Games were held nearly 2500 years ago in Delphi, and for 500 odd years after that. (The marble seats are more recent - a mere 1800 years, put in during the reign of Hadrian as part of the Roman restoration of the temple precinct. The Romans also shortened the track from the Greek stadium length of about 187 meters to about 181. So my hundred yard dash left me far short of the finish!)”

Tim visited other ancient sites during his wanderings around Greece, including Mycenae, Epidaurus, the Palamidi Fortress in Nafplio, and sites in Athens. His photo essays on all of them will take you back in time.

Filed Under Archaeology, Europe, Feature, Greece


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