Tuesday, December 20, 2011

David Potter, “The Victor’s Crown: A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium (Oxford University Press, 2011)

The author’s Milt’s guest tonight.

As David Potter points out in his survey of Greek and Roman games, The Victor’s Crown: A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium(Oxford University Press, 2011), there have been only two periods in human history when spectator sports have had a prominent place in society and culture: our own modern age, and the ancient and classical eras in the Mediterranean. The parallels between ancient and modern games are numerous. The athletes of millennia ago, whether Olympic competitors or Roman chariot racers, were celebrities of their day, lauded by the earliest sports columnists (Greek lyric poets) and fan bloggers (Roman graffiti scribblers). They were also well rewarded. Olympic victors were the objects of bidding wars among competing Greek cities, similar to today’s free agency and transfer windows, while the richest athlete of any age remains the Roman charioteer Diolces, whose wealth was surpassed only by the emperor’s.

David Potter, “The Victor’s Crown: A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium (Oxford University Press, 2011)

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