Vol. 2, Issue 31, August 17, 2004
Education for the Otiose

It is Difficult to move Forward when Looking Back so Far

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

Crisply snapping Banners, the pageantry of Athleticism in all its Glory, the noble arts of Javelin, Discus, and many others besides: even the most Reclusive of citizens must surely realize that the conjoined Circles have been hoisted once Again to signal that greatest of Athletic Gatherings, the Olympics. And in the homeland of Greece no less! It is one of the Cornerstones of this cornerstone of Western civilization, for ancient Greek youths were Competing thus even as the great Philosophers, Playwrights, and Kings were plying their respective Crafts and, in doing so, laying the Groundwork for our Culture ever since.

One might suppose that the return of this World-wide gathering to its Ancestral Home-land would stir the nations of the World to unrivaled Enthusiasm and a competition without Equal. Proudly do we send forth the best of our Youth, clad in the garish colors of Old Glory, in search of some precious Metal to hang about their necks, and by extension Ours.

But alas, the Gods are not smiling upon the Games. Stands are near-empty, the air is Tepid rather than Electric; my colleagues at the Club turn to the Sports Section of the papers only after perusing the Front page, Financial section, Real estate, and even the Classifieds. Where is the interest? Where is the spirit of Old?

There are concerns, of course, about Security and such - not to be Dismissed lightly. But a deeper Answer, I think, lies in the Years between the days of Yore and Now. For the games are not in fact the same Tradition, but a recent re-Creation. Though the ancient games were held for nearly twelve Centuries, the last in the Original line was in the Fourth Century Anno Domini.

And what happened in the Fourteen Centuries between the last of those ancient games and their Revival in the late nineteenth Century? I can think of a Few things, myself.

Continuity is a tricky Business, though one mankind is perpetually Engaged in. Can one forge a genuine Connection over centuries through wishful Thinking? I have difficulty forging a connection to last Month, at least with regards to certain Bills that must be paid thanks to my Nephew. But for all that the Olympics have become quite the modern-day Competition, they strike me somewhat like the optimistically named medieval Holy Roman Empire - a largely Germanic state which was not particularly Holy, Roman, or Imperial. Athens may be the site of Old, and Greece has worked Nobly to bring about the event; but it is Not, I think, in looking back that the Olympics will find once again their Passion and Energy.

But perhaps there is a thread of Continuity between old and New after all. Emperor Theodosius brought the original games to an End in 393 because he declared them Corrupt, and he did not even have Access to testing for Controlled Substances. Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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