Wednesday, 15 August 2012


As I surface from a welter of sporting history being made, after watching sports I never even knew existed,  I am reflecting on the original Olympians: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus and Hermes. What a team! And like the modern-day Olympians these deities relied on a huge team of lesser gods and goddesses to help them achieve their goals.

The mythology of Greece underpins western civilisation, and these characters have inspired so many writers and artists. We still use these once-holy names today. We refer to things being 'hermetically sealed' meaning 'airtight.' The capital city of Greece is called after Athena. A drunken orgy can be described as 'Dionysian' or 'Bacchanalian' and so on.

Give these Greek gods their Roman names and the references become even more common. A communications company calling itself 'Mercury.' Hotels calling themselves 'Jupiter' or 'Neptune.' Or Venus given her name to an unfortunate side-effect of romance, venereal disease.

Just as the religion of ancient Greece inspired its heroes, so the modern-day Olympians are inspired by the spirit of those first athletes who established the rules of fair play and competition. Even though Greece was often torn apart by warring tribes, athletes and spectators were guaranteed a safe passage to Athens by the three-month Olympic Truce. During this time, courts were suspended, wars ceased and peace reigned. This Olympic Truce was revived by the United Nations in 1993.

I am proud to say that my country fulfilled the requirements of the Olympic Truce in the 2012 Games, and hosted an international event that will live long in the memory of all those who watched, listened, aided and took part.

Long live Olympia, wherever it may reside!

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