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The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

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3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  203 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
What was it like to attend the ancient Olympic Games?

With the summer Olympics’ return to Athens, Tony Perrottet delves into the ancient world and lets the Greek Games begin again. The acclaimed author of Pagan Holiday brings attitude, erudition, and humor to the fascinating story of the original Olympic festival, tracking the event day by day to re-create the experience in
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 8th 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks
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Community Reviews

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Bandit
Apr 27, 2014 Bandit rated it liked it
This is my third read by the author and the first one where historical aspect dominates the book. Usually it's a balance between history and a travelogue. So this one is somewhat less humorous, but nevertheless interesting, well written and informative. Olympic games back in the day certainly were not what we're used to now, a wholly different (and very naked) kind of spectacle is presented here. Once again the author makes history come alive with his wit, erudition and attention to detail. This ...more
Daniel
Jul 24, 2016 Daniel rated it it was ok
To quote Gertrude Stein, there's no there there. The writing is fine, but the book could have easily been cut down to a long piece in the New Yorker. It feels padded. There are plenty pf passages in which Perrottet invokes what have to be legends to make his narrative seem like a recounting of fact:

In one famous tiebreaker at Nemea, a certain Demoxenos of Syracuse jabbed out with his outstretched fingers, pierced the skin covering his opponent's rib cage, and pulled out his intestines. The judge
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Jerry Smith
Mar 05, 2013 Jerry Smith rated it really liked it
Shelves: sport, history, 2013-read
Very enjoyable, easy read. Certainly not for you if you are looking for serious scholarly information, but that isn't the intent of this book. It sets out to explain what the ancient games were really like, especially for those attending. TP also covers the competitors, the nature of the competitions themselves, the judges and the whole structure of the 5 day festival that was the Olympic games.

I have been to Olympia, and it remains one of the most atmospheric places I have ever visited. Much of
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Janis
Feb 28, 2014 Janis rated it really liked it
Those who think history is boring might want to try Tony Perrottet – especially his fascinating and entertaining account of the ancient Greek Olympics. He explores the original Olympics as experienced by athletes and spectators, from the moment purple-clad heralds announced the sacred games, to ancient workout routines and diet plans, the details of the often-brutal contests, the wild festivities, and the clean-up afterwards. I learned a lot and had fun all along the way!
Jay Daze
Mar 23, 2015 Jay Daze rated it liked it
A lot of interesting factoids about the ancient olympic games using the five days of the games as a way of structuring the book. While there was lots of interesting stuff about how the games have always been profession, corrupt and basically gross, I found there wasn't much of a narrative through line (I'm mostly a fiction reader), so I found the book a little too easy to put down and pick up. More bathroom reading than urgent reading. That said, the writing was clear, the facts were interesting ...more
Clark Knowles
May 22, 2014 Clark Knowles rated it really liked it
Fantastic book. For anyone who follows the Olympics, this is a must read. The ancient Olympics ran for 1200 years--mind boggling, really. Tony Perrottet reveals the bloody, drunken, naked religious and athletic festival in all its glory. It sounds like a cliche, but he really does allow the reader to "feel like they are there."
Brian
Sep 01, 2014 Brian rated it liked it
A good historical reference for many of the interesting Olympic traditions that have come about because of the ancient games in Greece. Although the author can be quite dry and boring at times, there are numerous adequate references and cited material for many of the now similar Olympic events that took place in ancient Greece. Not a very stimulating or exciting read but one that is helpful to understanding the Olympic traditions.
Jennifer
Jun 15, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
I would give this book a 3.5 or 4. Perrottet covers many aspects of the original Olympics despite the difficulty of finding primary sources. Good historical overview.
Jenine
Jun 10, 2014 Jenine rated it really liked it
A brisk review of the history of the ancient Greek Olympic games. I was happy to see this author's appreciation of Courtesans and Fishcakes.
Kimberly
Apr 24, 2016 Kimberly rated it really liked it
Excellent short soup to nuts treatment of the Olympic Games on Antiquity. Crisply executed. Good read.
Vicki Cline
Oct 19, 2012 Vicki Cline rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-history
This is a reconstruction of what the Greek games at Olympia must have been like. Perrottet describes events in chronological order, starting with the arrival of the athletes at the nearby town of Elis, through the day-by-day athletic events, with asides about training, evening debauchery, and cheating, among others. I was amazed at the large amount of detail available from ancient sources. Also included are many illustrations of various events found inside Greek drinking cups. The only lack was ...more
Marilyn Shapiro
Oct 18, 2014 Marilyn Shapiro rated it liked it
Good read, especially in conjunction with our recent trip to Greece and the visit to the 1876 Olympic stadium.
Don
Aug 19, 2008 Don rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Really interesting description of the ancient Olympics... the angle is terrific: Here's what it's like for the athletes and fans heading into and during the games at Olympia. This book dispells many myths surrounding the Olympics -- and enlightens us that the glory of sport was just as overbearing as it is today (for all the good and bad -- corruption, greed, sex, etc. -- it just is what it is, and what it ain't, that's all).
Thany
Mar 10, 2016 Thany rated it really liked it
Interesting read, even for someone who couldn't care less about the Olympics.
Nathan
A lighthearted popular history of the original Olympic Games that should appeal mainly to armchair enthusiasts of Greek history. While impressive scholarship or exhaustive research is not the order of the day, there is enough to satisfy - and entertain - the casual reader.
Paige
Jan 02, 2008 Paige rated it liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs
Shelves: non-fiction
I wasn't sure how to rate this. At first I liked it, as it was very informative. But I guess it got a little graphic for me, and it later became a little uncomfortable for me to read... maybe I just wasn't ready to know THAT much about the ancient games! ;)
Alix
Mar 22, 2014 Alix rated it really liked it
A bit repetitive at times, but for a nonfiction book this was pretty good. I actually enjoyed the time I spent reading it and it was the perfect mix between story and fact. Would recommend, even though I doubt I will ever read it again.
Alec
Apr 27, 2009 Alec rated it it was amazing
Tony Perrottet has a great ability to describe ancient life in a vivid and entertaining manner. I really liked this book!
Laurie
Oct 20, 2014 Laurie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
Very interesting facts about the ancient Olympics. They weren't like I really thought at all. Well worth reading.
Colin
Feb 24, 2008 Colin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scholarly-works
A friend got me a copy of this book signed by the author and inscribed to me - it's pretty cool.
Diane
Aug 16, 2012 Diane rated it it was ok
An interesting book about the early Olympics in Greece. More on http://bookwinked.wordpress.com
Tina
Aug 17, 2011 Tina rated it liked it
Some interesting tidbits about the Ancient Olympics, a little dry in parts.
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“It was an excellent place to be if you wanted to hear crowds of wretched philosophers heaping abuse on one another—an endless number of historians reading out their imbecilic writings—innumerable poets reciting their drivel to the wild applause of other poets—gaggles of magicians showing their tricks—throngs of fortune-tellers telling fortunes—countless lawyers perverting justice—or armies of peddlers hawking whatever rubbish came to hand. . . . —DIO THE GOLDEN-TONGUED, C. A.D. 100 ONCE” 0 likes
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