Herayas - olympiads for women
Blush and body fat!
Well, still not!
It's not for nothing that I struggle, I jump and run!
Aristophanes (c. 450 - c. 385 BC)
Women and the Olympic Games. In Ancient Greece, as everyone knows from school, there was a strict ban on women and girls from attending the Olympic Games (or simply the Games). An exception was made only for one woman - the high priestess of the goddess Demeter. However, Greek women had their own holiday "without men" - Thesmophorius - a purely women's holiday, the entry into which men were strictly forbidden and even considered as sacrilege. Yet in Greece, even women could play sports and even compete with each other in the stadium. And in almost the same sports as men. These competitions were called Geraia or Gerey games, and they were dedicated to the wife of the great Zeus, the ruler of gods and people, the goddess Hera.
Gods are the worst of people!
First of all, we note that the gods of the Greeks were extremely similar to people. Moreover, as the thinker Socrates noted, the Greek gods, judging by the myths, were "the worst of people." They spent all their divine powers and capabilities on squabbles, debauchery with each other and with mortals, overeating and drinking. According to Socrates, not a single normal person would want to be like their own gods, although ... he worshiped them very willingly! It's amazing how ugly the Greek gods behaved. So, Zeus, having a beautiful wife Hera, constantly cheated on her with mortal women, for which he turned into a swan, then into a bull. Well, Hera took revenge on his passions for this. For this Zeus acted very coolly with his lawful wife and by this, apparently, set an example for all other Greeks. Once he bound her with gold chains and hung her between heaven and earth, attached two heavy bronze anvils to her legs, and even scourged her!
"The Lady of Auxerre". Paris, Louvre. Perhaps this is what the Greek women of that distant era looked like ...
Beaters for the mess!
Note also that, looking at their gods, in most Greek city-states, the Greeks introduced orders for their women that were not much different from those of slavery. They were charged with the obligation to behave very modestly, guests who come to their husbands not to come across them once again, so that nothing, neither good nor bad, could be said about them. But women should have managed only perfectly well. Her hubby could talk with philosophers all day long, hiding from the sun in the shade of the porticoes, wandering around the market, or attending a palaestra (private gymnastics school) and doing gymnastics there. In any case, by the time of the husband's arrival, his wife, either herself or together with the slaves, should have brought complete order to the house. And if this did not happen, then the spouse had every right to beat his half. True, the Greeks were the first in the ancient world to renounce polygamy and were very proud of it, considering it a barbarian custom unworthy of a noble Hellene!
True, women were given one interesting indulgence. They were actually ordered to go to ... the theater on the feast of Dionysus. But even here they had a limitation: they could only watch tragedies, and comedies were forbidden to watch. After all, they were usually written on the topic of the day, and it was believed that women were incomprehensible, and even rude. Leaving the door of the house, even if to the theater, women were obliged to cover their faces with the edge of their cloaks. And she was not supposed to go out alone, but accompanied by a domestic, preferably an elderly slave!
Sparta is a city where the opposite is true!
But there was a city in Greece where everything was not at all the same as in other cities. It was ancient Sparta and it was the other way around! Spartan women had broad legal rights and could dispose of family property on an equal basis with men, they could have land, and besides, they were charged with the obligation (and not that allowed!) To develop physically in order to give birth to healthy and strong offspring. Therefore, girls were instructed to take part in sports competitions on an equal basis with young men.
Together with the young men, the girls were engaged in running, wrestling (!), And throwing a javelin and a discus. Moreover, all exercises were traditionally performed without clothes. But Plutarch wrote, “there was nothing indecent about the girls' nudity. They were still shy and far from temptation”, Such was the Spartan upbringing, where nudity in sports was not considered indecent. But on the other hand, from such an upbringing, Spartan girls were sharp-tongued, independent in judgments, and men were not forgiven for their vices and weaknesses. And to beat the Spartan woman was a real problem: you could get change too!
Herai - games in honor of Hera
Nevertheless, the women of Greece achieved the right to participate in sports at the stadium in Olympia, dedicating them to the goddess Hera. Hence their name - Gerai. There is a legend that their founder was Hippodamia, the wife of King Pelop. Another legend says that these were 16 women from the cities of Elis, which is why the Heraias were then led by 16 priestesses. As during the men's Olympiads, during the Heraia, a sacred peace was declared between all the Greek city-states, and, of course, men were not allowed on them!
The games began with a sacrifice to Hera, because sport in those days was considered by the Greeks as a kind of service to the deity. The female athletes were cleansed with sheep's blood and water. Then, flowers, fruits, wine and olive oil were sacrificed on the altar to the goddess, and finally, the main gift was laid - especially for this holiday, woven and beautifully embroidered peplos - traditionally women's outerwear. The sacrifices were followed by racing competitions - agons, in which girls of three ages were allowed to participate: still girls, teenage girls and young unmarried women. The distance they had to run was one-sixth shorter than that of the men. In modern measures, this turns out to be about 160 meters - something between the distances of 100 and 200 meters. Then other competitions were added to the run, so that the women at the games in honor of Hera had something to see and someone to cheer for. But what were they wearing there?
Running winner. Roman marble repetition (460st century AD) of an ancient Greek bronze original (c. XNUMX BC). Rome, Vatican Museums
Naked, but not quite!
Do not think that the athletes on the Gerayas ran completely naked. No, for them a kind of tracksuit was invented, albeit completely in the ancient Greek tradition. And we know about this, since a bronze statuette of a Spartan runner has come down to us, dating back to 550-520 BC, and which is now kept in the British Museum. In addition to this statue, there is a description of similar competitions in Elis (the Eleians were allies of the Spartans) by the historian Pausanias, which coincides with it:
Ruddy and plump
Antique story kept for us the names of many women - winners in such competitions. For example, the name of Chlorida, who was the daughter of the Theban king Amphion. She was such a renowned athlete that one of the city's seven gates was named after her. Moreover, she was also beautiful.
Atalanta from Arcadia was an excellent runner, moreover, she accurately shot from a bow, competed in wrestling, and also won the laurels of the winner there. It was she who was the only woman in the Argonauts' campaign for the golden fleece. And although this is clearly a myth, the fact that such a woman is even mentioned in it is very revealing.
Well, fate itself ordered the Spartans to win in Geraya. Kiniska, the daughter of the Spartan king Archidamus II, repeatedly, for example, won chariot races at the hippodrome and ruled her chariot-quadriga, that is, harnessed by four horses at once, with an unwavering hand. It is interesting that other women also won in equestrian competitions, but they still did not receive such fame as Kiniska. But she was honored to receive a bronze statue of a chariot and her own statue in the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. It bore an inscription stating that she was the only woman to win the olive wreath in chariot races at the Olympic Games in Greece. But the famous Greek satirist Aristophanes diligently ridiculed all these female valor, so the Athenian women did not like him very much.
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