Saturday, April 2, 2016

Olive Wreath and the Olympic Games

The olive tree that produces olive oil in ancient Greece was considered a symbol of prosperity, wisdom, glory and peace. The Olympians took a prize like a wreath of olive branches. It was the most unique and prestigious prize that could ever be given to humans. The olive wreath, called ‘Kotinos’, was the single prize of the Olympic Games winners.

Legend says that the olive tree from which they made wreaths for the Olympic champions, was planted by semi-god Heracles at Olympia where the Olympics were taking place in ancient Greece and where they got their name from. Also from the olive tree of Athena on the Acropolis, they were taking branches and making wreaths for the winners of the races which took place in Athens, the Panathenean festival.

Homer was refering to the olive oil as "liquid gold", whilst the founder of medicine, ancient Greek Hippocrates, (400 BC.) believed it to be a "great healer.”. Also, the ancient Greek god of medicine Asclepius, the philosopher Theophrastus (300 BC) and the historian Plutarch (100 BC) had praised the healing properties of the olive oil. Therefore, it is understandable why the olive wreath had such an important role and symbolism in the ancient Greek world, and especially for the Olympic Games. 

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