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for the founders of the Modern Olympic Games



The Illustrated London News (United Kingdom)

November 20, 1858

p486, Greek Fishermen Dancing the Romaika

In a recent number we gave a brief account of the restoration of the Olympic Games in Greece. A Correspondent writing from Athens says:- A Royal decree has been signed for the re-establishment of the ancient Olympic Games, after being discontinued for nearly 1500 years. They are to be held at Athens, in the ancient Stadium, which is still in a very perfect state of preservation, and requires very little more than a good cleaning out, and are to take place on the three first Sundays in October, every fourth year, commencing in 1859. The games are to include horse races, wrestling, throwing quoits, and other athletic sports, singing, music, and dancing, besides which there is to be an exhibition of flowers, fruits, cattle, and other articles of Greek produce or manufactures. This eccentric idea was formed by a wealthy Peloponnesian named Evangelos Zappas, who resides at Jassy, in Moldavia, and who has liberally endowed the games by placing at the disposal of the Hellenic Government four hundred shares in the Greek Steam Navigation Company, besides the sum of 3000 Dutch ducats in natura. The prizes are to be awarded by a committee appointed each Olympiad by the Greek Government, and will consist of gold and silver medals, and wreaths of silver leaves and flowers. The former will contain an effigy of the King, whilst on the reverse will be engraved the name of the founder ‘Zappas’ and the date, or rather the number, of the Olympiad. The winners of the prize-medals will be entitled to wear them at the buttonhole, suspended by a blue and white watered silk ribbon.

In connection with these restored Olympic Games we give the accompanying Illustration of the national Greek dance the Romaika, danced by Greek fishermen. Its history has been connected with the dance invented at Delos, when Theseus came thither from Crete to commemorate the adventure of Ariadne and the Cretan Labyrinth, and the character of its movements very much corresponds with those described by Plutarch in his “Life of Theseus.”

[Zappas.org says: Zappas originally requested that the seating in the stadium be refurbished with marble. Unfortunately, the Greek Government, decided to refurbish with wood instead, despite having received more than enough money from Zappas to refurbish in marble. This meant that another refurbishment was required for the Athens 1896 Olympic Games. Many of the details above are not accurate but the article which was published in a very popular British publication does note the coming revival of the Olympic Games.]

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Recommended reading by Zappas.org:

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The Modern Olympics: A Struggle for Revival

cover

by
David. C Young

published by
The Johns Hopkins University Press

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A Brief History of the Olympics

cover

by
David. C Young

published by
Blackwell Publishing

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