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Wrestling With the Ancients: Modern Greek Identity and the Olympics Hardcover – February, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

Kitreoff recounts the history of modern Greece's role in the Olympics, from experimental Olympiads in the nineteenth century—events included diving to pick up a five-drachma coin from the seabed and balancing on an inflatable greased sack—to the bureaucratic fumbles in the preparations for the current Games. Victorian enthusiasts were inspired by Greece's classical heritage, providing the Greek state with an opportunity to advance its lowly political and economic status. This resulted in the invention of some bizarre traditions, involving ancient temples and women dressed as priestesses. (The ritual of the Olympic-torch relay was actually a German idea, dreamed up for the infamous Berlin Games of 1936.) Kitreoff shrewdly exposes the anxieties latent in Greek evocations of past glory. The Greeks, as usual, have a word for it: progonople¯xia, which means "being struck by ancestors."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Greekworks.Com Inc; First Edition edition (February 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0974766003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974766003
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,479,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By tzon on August 27, 2004
I've learned so much about the Oympic movement from reading this book, not to mention so much about the history of Greece. The book examines how closely the national identity of Greece is entwined with the Olympics and outlines Greece's preparations leading to the 1896 Games, the first of the Modern Games. The book also explores the classical legacy of the Olympic Games. Much information can also be learned about the history of modern Greece in general through this book. I HIGHLY recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Henry Berry on September 5, 2004
WRESTLING WITH THE ANCIENTS - Modern Greek Identity and the Olympics by Alexander Kitroeff., 307 W. 89th St., New York, NY 10024; 276+viii pp. $32.00 hardcover, ISBN 0-9747660-0-3. photographs, footnotes, appendices, bibliography, index.

The ancient Greek Olympics were the inspiration and model for the start of the quadrennial event of the modern-day Olympics begun in Athens in 1896. "The games will go on, although they will experiences reforms, but as long as the Olympic movement needs the ideological legitimacy provided by ancient traditions, Greece will remain an important part of it." This ineradicable identification with the Olympics has had effects on Greek self-image, politics, and society since 1896. Kitroeff brings to light the tensions within modern Greece between representing in various ways the ancient Greek culture that is a foundation of Western civilization and pursuing political and economic interests in becoming more integrated into Europe and being recognized as a fully modern nation. With European scholars and historians often ascribing historical roles and influences Greece itself did not necessarily accept, Greece was not always able to determine how other nations and peoples saw it. Kitroeff goes in to these complexities to present the modern Greek mentality and society so that readers come to comprehend Greece in a relevant, multi-faceted, and progressive way rather than as simply a symbol for an ancient culture that the Olympics were part of. In this, Kitroeff also relates Greece's participation in the modern Olympic games. The author is an associate professor of history at Haverford College and coeditor of The Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora and author of many books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 10, 2004
Wrestling With The Ancients: Modern Greek Identity And The Olympics by Alexander Kitroeff (Associate Professor of History, Haverford College) especially focuses upon the time span ranging from the nineteenth-century origins of the modern Olympic games to the present day, and the interconnection between the Olympics and Greek nationalism. A chapter by chapter discussion of the Olympic events of history and their reverberations upon the collective Greek psyche, Wrestling With The Ancients offers a unique and thoughtful perspective upon the interplay between the legacy of the classical era, the last century's wars, and the latest powerful effects of globalism. An aptly researched, methodical tour through Olympic history and its reverberations upon Greek national identity.
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