Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games” as Want to Read:
The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  256 Ratings  ·  27 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
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 8th 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Naked Olympics, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Naked Olympics

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Apr 27, 2014 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
Another informative and engrossing read by Tony Perrottet - as informative as his book about following in the footsteps of ancient Roman tourists Route 66 Ad , and written without academic jargon.

Perrottet guides us through how the judges, the priests, the athletes, the spectators, and the refreshment and souvenir sellers may have experienced the five days of the ancient Olympic games: training, getting to Olympia, finding food and drink, sacrificing to Zeus and other deities, poets and philosop
Constanza Gomez
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good and informative book, although I didn’t like that quotes lacked source (like he says “as Homer tells” and don’t address the work and lines]. It’s very frustrating nit knowing where to look in the original sources.
And it was a bit messy sometimes, but the appendixes are very useful.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lively account of what it must have been like to attend and/or compete in the ancient Olympic games, with lots of entertaining asides and historical detail.
Jerry Smith
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, sport, 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
Jay Daze
Feb 10, 2015 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
Sam Johnson
Jul 19, 2016 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
Vicki Cline
Sep 23, 2012 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
Aug 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
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).
Feb 28, 2014 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!
Aug 04, 2014 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.
Clark Knowles
May 18, 2014 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."
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.
Jan 02, 2008 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! ;)
Feb 14, 2013 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.
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Some interesting tidbits about the Ancient Olympics, a little dry in parts.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great read during my trip to Greece which included a visit to Olympia
Kathy Wojo
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Such a fun book to read! I borrowed this book from my library but will now buy it so when the next Olympics come around I can dazzle my friends with fascinating tidbits of Olympic history.
Jun 15, 2014 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.
Feb 24, 2008 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.
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting read, even for someone who couldn't care less about the Olympics.
Apr 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent short soup to nuts treatment of the Olympic Games on Antiquity. Crisply executed. Good read.
Apr 06, 2009 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!
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
An interesting book about the early Olympics in Greece. More on
Jun 10, 2014 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.
Feb 24, 2013 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.
Marilyn Shapiro
Oct 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Good read, especially in conjunction with our recent trip to Greece and the visit to the 1876 Olympic stadium.
Daniel Morgan Potts
rated it liked it
Apr 07, 2016
rated it really liked it
Oct 11, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Aug 30, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Along The Enchanted Way: A Romanian Story
  • Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens
  • We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher
  • The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
  • Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot
  • Chasing the Sun: The Epic Story of the Star That Gives Us Life
  • Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A Sourcebook
  • The Oxford Classical Dictionary
  • The Age of Conversation
  • The Only Way to Cross: The Golden Era of the Great Atlantic Liners - From the Mauretania to the France and the Queen Elizabeth 2
  • Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature
  • 10,000 Years of Art
  • A Lot of Hard Yakka
  • The Long Exile
  • Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936
  • Pro M. Caelio Oratio
  • A Writer's House in Wales
  • The Vampire in Europe: True Tales of the Undead

Nonfiction Deals

  • A Guide to the Present Moment
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Breaks of the Game
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
    $12.74 $2.99
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Dry
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Measure of a Man
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
    $13.99 $2.99
  • 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
    $8.49 $1.99
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
    $17.48 $1.99
  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Scar Tissue
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Running with Scissors
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
    $9.99 $2.99
  • 1968: The Year That Rocked the World
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
    $9.99 $2.99
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini
    $22.95 $1.99
  • Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Egg and I
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
    $12.74 $1.99
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Just Another Kid
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Second World War
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
    $13.99 $1.99
  • I Am Not Myself These Days (P.S.)
    $13.24 $1.99
  • In the Beginning...Was the Command Line
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Toltec Art of Life and Death
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It
    $9.49 $2.99
  • The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top
    $17.99 $2.99
  • A Brief History of Time
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Penguin Lessons
    $12.99 $1.99
  • What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011
    $12.99 $2.99
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About God: A
    $11.49 $2.99
“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” 1 likes
More quotes…