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The Olympic Games of ancient Greece were a series of sporting contests held in celebration of and for Zeus within the Sanctuary of Olympia in Elis, Greece. Originally a festival, events such as a footrace, a javelin contest, wrestling matches, and chariot racing were later added.
Traditionally held in Elis on the Peloponnese, the Olympic Games were open to contestants from poleis across the ancient Greek world. Due to this, and the fact that they were considered sacred, even during the Peloponnesian War the Games enforced a truce that harshly punished anyone who broke the peace.
The first Olympics
6th century BCE Olympics
In the 54th Olympic Games in 564 BCE, Arrachion, a previous winner of the pankration events in 572 BCE and 568 BCE, died due to an illegal suffocation by his opponent. As a result, Arrachion was proclaimed the winner after event, winning the game posthumously.
428 BCE Olympics
During the Peloponnesian War, Sparta sent its prospective pankration champion Testikles to the 428 BCE Olympic Games in Elis. He was escorted there by the Spartan misthios Kassandra and her shipmate Barnabas.
Through unforeseen circumstances, Testikles was unable to compete and so Kassandra became Sparta's contender for the Olympic wreath. After defeating Orion, Erastos, and the reigning champion Dorieus of Rhodes, she brought the Olympic wreath home for Sparta.
Behind the scenes
Historically, in the year Kassandra competed, Dorieus won the pankration while Sparta took a wreath home in the four-horse chariot race.
In the novel, Alkibiades beats Kassandra in the stadium, though historically, the wreath for this event was awarded to Symmachos of Messene. Alkibiades is recorded as having been an Olympic champion, albeit for chariot racing in the 416 BCE games.
In real life, women were not allowed to participate in the Olympic games of antiquity before the victory of Cynisca of Sparta in 396 BCE. This fact is acknowledged in the game's loading menus, but is largely ignored during the course of gameplay, should Kassandra be the chosen protagonist. Despite this, the fact that married women were not allowed to view the games unless a male relative of theirs was competing is addressed in the side mission Kallipateira. However, there was a related athletic event for women, called Heraia and held in the honor of the goddess Hera.
Throughout Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, statues featuring athletes participating in Olympic sports can be found everywhere, but especially near gymnasiums. The statue of a Discobolus, or a disc thrower, seems to be based on the so-called Townley Discobolus, a Roman marble copy of a 5th century BCE Greek original. The statue featuring two pankratiasts likewise seems to be based on a Roman marble copy of a lost 3rd century BCE Greek original, making its presence in the game anachronistic.