The True Meaning of The Olympic Games, Part 1

August 14, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015
A priestess carries the Olympic Flame to the ancient stadium of Olympia, Greece. The flame, symbolizing the Olympic spirit, will burned at the Athens Games in 2004.   (Aris Messinis/Getty Images)
A priestess carries the Olympic Flame to the ancient stadium of Olympia, Greece. The flame, symbolizing the Olympic spirit, will burned at the Athens Games in 2004. (Aris Messinis/Getty Images)

According to Greek mythology, the first to competed for the Olympic games were gods, and then heroes, and finally humans.

For the Ancient Greeks, every planet is represented by one character, one spirit, one god.

The Olympic Games were started to honor Zeus, the king of the gods. The winner was Apollo, the sun god.

In order to understand the Olympic Games, we have first to understand what Apollo’s victory meant for the gods, for heroes and for humans.

Apollo’s victory emphasizes the sun’s importance to other planets, which are gods. They want to reach the sun and themselves be bright. The sun’s fire, according to Greek mythology, moves everything and symbolizes the spirit and its purification. The sun illuminates everything. For their goal of purity to be achieved, each planet had to pass through a great process of learning through ordeals and tests until they would finally be bright as the sun—that’s why they still rotate around the sun.


After the gods came the five heroes or ‘’idaioi daktiloi.”  In order to organize the Games, they descended from Zeus’ mountain, the mountain of ideas.

Hercules was the first and biggest of the five heroes and his name meant “the power and the structure of fate.” Epimidis was “the one who could increase his inner light. ‘’ Iasios was “the one who could be cured from mortality through his development.” ‘’Idas,’’ ideas, were the force power of Olympic Games and Paionios’ name symbolized the gate of eternity where every soul that competes wants to go.

The five ‘’idaioi daktiloi’’ sent a message through their names: Through the power and glory of the soul, thought and ideas, pureness of morality, one will pass the gate of eternity.

Of the heroes, Hercules was the winner. After his victory, he visited the northernmost country, where no mortal ever have been. He brought from there the most sacred olive tree and planted it in Olympia.


For humans the first documented Olympic Games started for different reasons. At that time Greeks were always fighting with each other. One of the kings was sad because his kingdom had epidemics and wars. Because he wanted to help his people he went to Apollo, the holy oracle of Delphi.

Apollo told him that in order to help Greece he had to revive the Olympic Games, which had been abandoned for years. Thus, the king asked help from the kings of Sparta and Athens and together they formed something that changed the whole history of Olympia—the Olympic truce.

That is to say, many months before the Olympics, Greeks all over the country didn’t fight against each other. This way athletes and whoever wanted to watch the Games could travel safely to Olympia without any danger. The games hence took place every four years in the summer.

Athletes were conscious that their spirit was a mystical union with the Gods and that they had to behave perfectly in line with the Olympic spirit.

The Olympic spirit stated that through hardships in their training, athletes had to cultivate their virtue, their moral values as well as their mind and body. Through the Olympic games someone could see beauty, strength, pureness and in no ways show off. Olympians were more religious than the average Greek.

The Greek Olympic Games were a path of spiritual cultivation for Gods, heroes and humans in order to develop their characters as they worked toward their goals. Their destination was always brighter this way they tried to follow sincere principles.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Neli Sfigopoulou
Neli Sfigopoulou