Monday, August 16, 2004

the odorous origins of the Olympics

In his Guardian review of Nigel Spivey's The Ancient Olympics: War Minus the Shooting, Oliver Taplin remembers the mythical roots of the Olympics. "It is ironically appropriate that the mythical stables (or rather farmyards) of Augeas were situated on the future site of the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia. The story was that Augeas never used to clean out the stinking, insalubrious dungyards of his huge cattle herds; eventually Hercules turned up and diverted the local river to wash out the accumula tions of slurry. While he was at it, he inaugurated the Olympic Festival, at least according to one of several founding myths. Ironically appropriate because there is probably no tradition derived from ancient Greece that has become so clogged and contaminated by ideological dung, self-interested nationalist ordure, and bogus sanitising as the modern Olympics."

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