Mark Golden


On his book Greek Sport and Social Status

Cover Interview of May 06, 2009


I hope that my book will persuade people to rethink how they use the past for the present’s purposes.  Take the Olympic truce campaign: no one could quarrel with its aims, to put a stop to war during the Olympic games.  But the original proposal was based on a misunderstanding about the ancient Olympic truce.  This was not a cease-fire, merely a guarantee of safe passage for athletes and spectators on their way to Olympia, and the Greek sponsors and United Nations supporters of the campaign no longer foster this myth.  However, the Olympic truce campaign has still had virtually no success. It would be better to model a modern Olympic peace movement on actual ancient practices: for example, those who broke the truce could be—and were—excluded from subsequent Olympic festivals. This tactic has been used effectively in the modern Olympics too: some belligerents—on the losing sides—were kept out of the games after both the First and Second World War.

Or perhaps we should not limit ourselves to what the Greeks did.  Some modern problems, war certainly among them, challenge us to express our own creativity and courage.  This is a kind of competition the Greeks themselves would admire.

© 2009 Mark Golden