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Error of the oracle

The Olympics were, and remain, rehearsals for state combat

By Jonathon Keats   June 2004

Book: The Ancient Olympics Author: Nigel Spivey Price: OUP, ?17.99

Fourteen days before the 11th Olympiad began, a Greek high priestess, attended by 14 virgins, focused the noonday sun to ignite a pyre, from which a torch was lit, and relayed by 3,075 runners from Olympia to Berlin. The year was 1936. Adolf Hitler was in power, and before conquering the modern world, he was attempting to rout history. That he should do so by way of the Olympics is appropriate: despots from Alexander the Great to Augustus Caesar sought to situate their legacy there, and Olympia itself, site of…

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