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Life in Ancient Greece

What was it like to be a kid in Ancient Greece? For one thing, parents considered their children "youth" until they were 30 years old! Ever wonder what kinds of houses the Ancient Greeks lived in? Did they go to school? Keep Pets? Click here to "meet the Greeks."

To learn more about the countries and people who participated in past Olympic games check out the Utah Education Network, for interesting facts and quizzes to test your knowledge!

Read on to learn more about the Ancient Greeks, the Olympic Games and more, with excerpts from texts published by Griffin Publishing Group. Along the way, find lots of links to help you learn and test your knowledge with quick quizzes.

Design Your Own "Athlon"
"Athlon" is a Greek word meaning contest. Several Olympic events include more than one contest. In the triathlon, meaning three contests, the competitor must run, swim, and cycle. Other Summer Olympic multi-contest events include the modern pentathlon, heptathlon and the decathlon.

Think about your favorite sports and games. Use these Greek prefixes to help you name and create your own "athlon."

di = 2  tri = 3  tetra = 4  penta = 5  hexa = 6  hepta = 7  octo= 8  ennea = 9  deca = 10

Quick Quiz

How much do you know about "athlons?"

  • Which Olympic event requires athletes to fence, shoot a pistol, swim, ride a horse and run? Think you know? Click here to check your answer!
  • Which "athlon" starts with a .9 mile swim? For help, visit the official U.S. site for this sport.
  • He was known as the "World's Greatest Athlete" after winning this event in Stockholm in 1912. Think you know? Find out and read more about gold medalist Jim Thorpe.

For help, visit the following Web sites:

The Twelve Olympians

For many years, the ancient Greeks gathered in the beautiful Valley of Olympia to offer sacrifices to their gods, whom they believed inhabited the top of Mount Olympus. In time this practice came to include the games and contests now known as the Olympic Games. Who were the Gods of the ancients?
Zeus: ruler of the sky. He was the most powerful of the gods.
Hera: protector of marriage. She was the wife of Zeus.
Poseidon: god of the sea, is second only to his brother Zeus in power.
Demeter: goddess of agriculture and fertility. She was the sister of Zeus and Poseidon.
Artemis: goddess of the moon, life, children and animals.
Apollo: god of the sun, was the twin brother of Artemis. Both helped people, but also punished them when they were angry.
Athene: goddess of wisdom. The city of Athens is named after Athene, its protector.
Aphrodite: goddess of love and beauty.
Hermes: god of speech, he was also the guardian of the gymnastic games and athletic contests.
Ares: god of war. He had such a bad temper, even his parents, Zeus and Hera, disliked him.
Hephaestus: god of fire, was thrown from heaven by his parents, Zeus and Hera.
Dionysus: god of wine and merrymaking, son of Zeus, was the only god whose mother was a mortal.

Quick Quiz

Find answers to these trivia questions about the Ancients who ruled from Mount Olympus.

  • Which of the gods uses a thunderbolt as a weapon? Click here to learn more about the god also known as "Jupiter."
  • This goddess of battle and war sprang full grown and wearing armor from her father's head. Think you know which of Zeus' daughters this is? Visit Watchavision and find out if you're right!
  • The gods have complicated family trees; can you name the three brothers who ruled the sky, water and underworld? For help visit Ancient Greece.com.

Do you speak Greek?
Maybe not, but many of the words we use today come from Greek words. Do you like to talk on the telephone? Tele is the Greek word for far away and phono means sound or voice. Do you enjoy taking photographs? Photo is the Greek word for light, and graph means written down. Check out some other Greek word stems and see how many other words you know that have been around since the time of the first Olympic Games. Want to learn more Greek words? Click here for an introduction to the ancient Greek language with lessons and quizzes to test your knowledge.

Olympic Medal Facts
No medals were given in the first Olympics. An olive wreath was given to the first place winner, who wore it on his head. No prizes were given for second or third place winners.

Since 1928, the Olympic medals for the summer games have had the same design on the front: the Olympic Rings, a Greek goddess, the coliseum of ancient Athens, a Greek vase, a horse-drawn chariot, along with the year, number of the Olympiad, and name of the host city. The design on the back varies with each Olympic Games and they are the responsibility of the host city's organizing committee. The host city may also add a detail to the original design.

This year the medals are getting a new look! They will feature the Panathinaiko Stadium, the venue in Athens where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. Also, Nike, the Greek goddess of victory will be standing with outspread wings, rather than sitting, as she is in the current design.

Gold medals are no longer made of pure gold. The medals are sterling silver covered with a thin coat (.21 ounces) of gold and are 7 centimeters (about 2 inches) in diameter. To see this year's medal and photographs of the sites of the summer games, visit www.olympic.org.

Design your own Olympic Medal

If you were hosting the Olympic Games what kind of medal would you design? What kind of design would show what is special about your city? Now that you know all about Olympic medals, use your own creativity! Design both sides of the medal for your own Summer games below.

Front Back

Check out Kids' Domain for more great ideas for making your own medals with things you probably have around the house.

More Fun Sites:

Portions of the above text were excerpted from Share the Olympic Dream--Volume II & Journey to Athens
© 2001 by Griffin Publishing Group/United States Olympic Committee.
© 2004 by Griffin Publishing Group/United States Olympic Committee

For information on purchasing Griffin materials, please visit the Griffin Publishing Group Web site at http://www.griffinpublishing.com.

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