Katakolon, Greece – May 14, 2007
We take the bus to Olympia, a world heritage site. The structures all tumbled down in a 6th century earthquake. One building was completed by Alexander the Great. It was circular and contained five family statues of made of ivory and gold. One statue was of his mother, who was also his first wife.
The temple of Zeus contained a 40 foot tall statue of the seated god. Resting in his hand was a three foot statue of Nike, winged goddess of victory. They’ve found enough column pieces to put up a couple of columns that give an idea of the huge scale.
The Olympic athletes here competed in the nude. Women were not allowed to watch. Women who snuck in were made to jump to their death from a high rock. One early "soccer mom" dressed as a trainer. She revealed herself by jumping up and down and whistling when her son won. She was from an important family and got to skip the rock thing. After that the trainers and other spectators all had to watch in the nude.
If you won an Olympic game the city bigwigs made you dinner every day for life and cut your taxes. Immortality was also an incentive. The airport on the island of Rhodes is named after one of the 921 Olympic winners whose names are still currently known...
I got to snorkel the port Katakolon an hour or two ago...The Aegean Sea…clear and cold...the sunbathers are curious about what I saw. I tell them sea grass, ancient shipwrecks filled with pots of wine containers, a great white shark, a sunken Maserati and several mythical sirens.
The word gymnasium is from the Greek gymnos, which means “naked”. Here are a few pictures of the Olympia ruins.