Kinesiology and Nutritional Science Cal. State LA Cal. State LA Kinesiology and Nutritional Science College of HHS
UNIT # 2: Historical Analysis of Physical Activity
Adapted and expanded from lecture notes by Mechikoff & Estes (1998)
By the completion of this unit the student will be able to
  • discuss the causes for the evolution of the major civilizations of the ancient world and the development of their education as well as physical education systems

    The Ancient Civilizations PowerPoint lecture notes are available in Adobe PDF format. To open a .pdf file in your browser you need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader application installed on your PC.

  • the Greek civilization and its contribution to, and lasting effects on current day philosophies and practices
  • contrast the Spartan and the Athenian educational systems and highlight the problems and solutions to current thinking and practices in the education & physical education systems in America
  • discuss the views of body and mind advanced by Greek philosophers and its influence on contemporary views and the forces, beliefs and philosophy behind the on-going debate of "educating the physical" versus "educating through the physical."

The Ancient Greek Olympics PowerPoint lecture notes are available in Adobe PDF format. To open a .pdf file in your browser you need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader application installed on your PC.

What conditions led to the evolution of play and games?
For tens of thousand of years Homo sapiens lived in caves: hunters, food gatherers, and nomads
About ten thousand years ago humans started living in settlements along great rivers: Yang Tze, Ganges, Euphrates & Tigris and the Nile (stable supply of water)
discovery of farming, specialized production of goods & the exchange of goods cessation of a nomadic existence & control of the environment social structure and organization and the evolution of a complex civilization
1) Play as a utilitarian behavior--play emerged from and was linked to survival skills such as hunting, fishing, and boxing.
2) Play as an instinctive behavior--humans have a natural need for play (play behaviors are also readily observed in the animal kingdom) and thus have always played whether they need to practice or acquire a skill or not. What people learn is immaterial to whether or not people play.
3) Play as a ritualistic behavior--games explain forces in the world that are not understood. By participating in the ritual one explains the meaning of a certain kind of event.
As far back as we know people have played ball games. There are several possible explanations:
1) Ball games are tied to religious events and magical functions. We now take for granted the characteristics of a ball, but ancient cultures thought the perfections of a sphere was godlike.
2) One function of ball games which appears to be pre-eminent was a fertility function. Games were played to rejoice in the production of food, children, and the seasons. The association of games with fertility pops up throughout history. For example:
  • Winter breaks, Spring comes in. The earth is going through a process of rebirth. People celebrate by playing games.
  • Another time of play is in the Fall because of the harvest.
  • Another time of play is at the height of the Summer when the days become longer and spring is on its way.
  • finally, Winter solstice (sol, the sun + sistere, to cause to stand still--either of two points on the sun s ecliptic at which it is farthest north or farthest south of the equator) a time of celebration as the days become longer and Spring is on its way.
There are no written records of primitive societies that existed 10,000 years ago. Primitive societies still exist in remote and isolated parts of Australia, Africa and Brazil to name a few places. One may assume that the currently existing primitive societies provide a window through which modern, progressive civilizations may observe life as it was 10,000 years ago. There are two major problems with this assumption: (1) How do we know that all cultures were exactly like the currently identified societies? and (2) How do we ascertain that we made progress while they were stagnating? With all the troubles of modern world survival and damage to the environment primitive life style may not necessarily be an inferior alternative (note the connotation of the word primitive ).
ARE HIGHLY COMPETITIVE AND SOPHISTICATED SPORTS PROGRAMS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN SCHOOLS? SHOULD VARSITY ATHLETICS IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM BE SUPPORTED BY THE TAX PAYER'S MONEY OR SHOULD THEY BE ABOLISHED? (consider the goals of physical education in Athens and Sparta and the goals of physical education as expressed by the "Commission on Teacher Credentialing, State of California, 1994, Physical Education Teacher Preparation in California: Standards of Quality and Effectiveness for Subject Matter Programs").
1. China--the Chou Dynasty (1122 B.C. - 256 B.C.) Similar to early Western civilizations the early Chinese people engaged in physical activities that included combative, play, and personal hygiene aspects. The Chou Dynasty is the Eastern culture's equivalent of the early Greeks. During almost 900 years laws, customs, family organization and systems evolved. Physical education included activities such as bow-and arrow shooting, a form of football, wrestling, boxing, fencing, boat races, rope pulling (the rope could be a mile long with residents of one town competing with residents of the another town), and chariot racing.
The very popular rise of martial arts in the U.S. characterizes the entire history of China. While golf is presumed to have evolved in Western Europe, the Chinese played a golf like game almost one thousand years ago.
The Chinese participated in a wide range of games and activities that emphasized both the perfection of the body along with the purity of the mind and character.
2. India's civilization is just as old as China's. However, ancestor worship, mystic philosophies and rigid social order limited education in general and physical education in particular, in scope and importance. Physical education included dance and served mainly religious and ritualistic needs.
3. The Middle East (Sumer, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, the Hebrews, and Persia). The civilizations of the great rivers Egypt & Sumer are generally regarded as the origins of urban civilized life. Sumer and Egypt and later Assyria, Babylonia, and the Hebrews used a utilitarian approach to physical education. Activities included horsemanship, archery, ball games, and dance .
One of the greatest influences on world history and physical education stemmed from a small yet sturdy nation--the Hebrews. Josephus Phlavious, a former general in the Jewish rebellion against Rome that ended in 70 C.E., who later turned historian for the Romans wrote the following (he probably attempted to present his people in the most positive way to the non-Jewish reader):
"Our laws tell us to do many things for all people. We must give fire, water, and food to anyone who needs them. We give them proper directions. We don t let a corpse go unburied. We are supposed to treat even our enemies with decency. We don t set fire to their country or chop down their fruit trees. We don't loot those killed in battle and we must not ill-treat captives, particularly women. Our law is so concerned with being gentle and humane that it even has rules about how we are to treat our animals . . .
Think about the Judeo-Christian philosophy and the concept of "sportspersonship."
The Greeks mark the beginning of western civilization. They were the first group to provide a systematic and philosophical attitude toward education, physical education and sport.
The Minoan civilization evolved some 4,000 years ago. Kanosis, on the Island of Create served as the Minoan civilization's center. Surrounded by sea, and with a strong fleet the Minoan evolved into a powerful thalasocracy (maritime supremacy). The Minoan town had almost no walls (like in later time Sparta). The Minoan civilization reached its peak by the year 2,000 B.C.E., and it maintained cultural and commercial links with the Egyptians, Assyrians and Babylonians.
Sir Arthur Evans studied the Minoan literature (Linear A; The Myceneans' writing style "Linear B" was the precursor of later Grecian writings prior to and during the Homeric period up until the end of the geometric period).
Excavations in Kanosis: Architecture & artifacts--Gods (animals, horns [Bull/Ox] and sports (boxing ,wrestling, and bull jumping [as forms of entertainment during funerals]).
Around 1,700-1,600 B.C.E., a new thalosocracy started to evolve in the Peloponnesus in the town of Mycenae. The myceneans traded with the cultures around the Mediterranean and naturally their activities came at the expense of the Minoan traders. The kings, the nobles, and the high ranked soldiers took part in sports in the Mycenaean culture. Homer describes chariot races, spear throwing (similar to the javelin throw), boxing, wrestling (standing), archery, and footraces. The sport contests were very competitive and participants were very aggressive. The chariot race, for example, included fighting among the participants. A boxing fight would end when one of the opponents was killed, and archery was used only for sporting purposes since the Myceneans liked a close combat war in which they could engage in a face to face clash with their opponents. Any special occasion was a good excuse for the Myceneans to engage in sports. A funeral, a celebration, a religious ceremony...they loved sports and participated with lots of fun and joy. Unlike the custom at most contemporary sports events were the first and second place and sometimes the third place is recognized, the Myceneans gave prizes to the best five in each contest.
The Greeks started forming around 1,800 B.C.E. as the descendants of non-Greek tribes. The third and last wave of invaders included the Dorian tribes. The Battle of Troy at 1,200 B.C.E. describes the fate of one Greek city state in Homer's epic tale the Iliad and the Odyssey.
At about 1,000 B.C.E. Dorian tribes descending from the North started attacking the Peloponnesus. Since the Dorians had better weapons (iron vs. copper) they overcame the very aggressive and militaristic Myceneans. The Mycenaean civilization was destroyed with its members scattered over the Mediterranean shores and the Peloponnesus sunk into a dark age.
Homer, a blind Greek poet, lived in Iona around 850-800 B.C.E.. Homer documented through his poems stories which were 350-400 years old. There is no original record of the battle of Troy. The story of Troy was told from one generation to the next. Culture, tradition and descriptions of significant events were handed down through the word of mouth. The credibility and reliability of such a practice may be questionable in some peoples minds. Nevertheless, since the alternative often is a broken chip of a ceramic pot, sources such as the Iliad and the Odyssey are invaluable to the understanding of the early Greek civilization.
What have we learned from Homer's Iliad and the Odyssey?
Devotion, strength of will, competition: A struggle for victory. The funeral games of Patroclus Odysseus and his ten year trip back home. His adventures and sporting experiences. The story of a wife's devotion to her husband (strong family values)
Mark the beginning of Western civilization. The Greeks were the first people to develop a systematic and philosophical attitude toward life. The attempt by the modern world to logically understand and explain nature and one's existence is a direct result of the influence of ancient Greek culture. Similar attitudes are manifested in our attempt to understand physical education and sport.
Many of our current attitudes toward the Greeks were derived from British Historians' views and interpretations. The British really liked the Greeks. They believed the Greeks were a very important, idealistic culture. The "positive" of the Greek culture were very similar to the "positives" of the British culture: democracy of the upper class, intellectualism, amateurism.
Our attitudes toward competition is very similar to that of the Greeks. Contemporary Americans accept the idea that competition is inherently good.
Several myths that deal with sport affect our attitude toward ancient Greek culture.
  • MYTH: The Greeks had a "golden age" from 600 to 400 B.C.E. and then declined until they were an unremarkable culture by 400 A.D.
  • This is over 1,000 years! Note: This is a generalization that causes one to overlook the variations within that culture. Secondly, the "golden age" is a term that modern historians applied to the Greeks because they liked some of the stereotypes they built into their own descriptions of that culture.
    REALITY: The Greeks did not know they were living in a "golden age," this is a term bestowed upon them.
  • MYTH: The ancient Greeks invented amateurism.
    REALITY: Amateurism is a British idea that was conceived in the 19th century.
  • The reason we study Greek sport history, though, is that the idea of "professionalism" in Greek Olympic athletes caused the demise of the golden age of sports (the story of Milo).
H. A. Harris: "When money comes in at the door, sport flies out the window."
Those that prefer amateur competition can trace their feelings back to both these British historians and the Greeks who competed.
NOTE: To a certain extent, we study history to debunk myths and to understand what really happened. We can then better understand our own behaviors and attitudes.
We know of the ancient games through poets and historians. The Greeks used the method of oral history. The earliest literary records are those attributed to Homer: ILIAD AND THE ODYSSEY.
Homer writes about athletic feats, most notably the funeral games of Patroclus. He addresses his poems to an educated, athletics minded culture. Games according to Homer, were already very important at the time of Troy. A precedent had been set at that time for games to be held in honor of gods or for fallen warriors.
Agamemnon, Menalaus, Nestor, and other leaders of Troy descended from families that were interested in promoting athletic games in Hellas. By the time of the Trojan war, the chariot race, boxing, wrestling, the foot race, race in armor, and the discus were already competitive events.
Other than Homer the most noted poets and historians of the time were Thucydides and Herodotus. Pintar, Strabo, Phlegmon, Pausanias, and Eusebius round out the picture we interpret today.
Athletic games were the usual features of the day wherever and whenever Greeks met in recreational assembly, whether it was to worship gods or to honor departed heroes. The Greek culture experienced practically no change from the times of Troy to the fall of Corinth to the Romans in 143 B.C.E. Eventually the Romans became the political, economic, and military power of the Mediterranean, still the Greek culture had a strong influence on the Roman culture.
Homer tells us of Greece. He lived in Iona 850-800 B.C.E. Homer was a blind poet who made his living by repeating stories that were 350 - 400 years old.
Oral tales repeated over and over again. This was the method of expressing history and tradition from one generation to the next. Was it accurate? Yes, fairly accurate.
From Homer's stories on thing is clear: The Greeks loved sports.
Both the Iliad and the Odyssey have stories of agon, spirit, competing--a struggle for victory.
Many original Greek terms are still in use today: agon, meeting the pain of competing and the competition itself. We now have the word "agony."
Historia in Greek means knowledge gained from inquiry.
Arete which means the striving for excellence. Do not confuse this with striving for victory.
Athletes means "one who competes for a prize." There is no word for amateur.
Contestari to call to witness (Latin) to bear witness together--the origin of the words "test," "contest," and "contestants."
Philos loving, friendly, having an affinity for, and "sophia" wisdom are the Greek source for the word philosophy or the love of wisdom.
Gymnastics which originally meant to compete in the nude ("gymnos" in Greek means naked or bare) is now used for the word for the sport of gymnastics. The word gymnasium is now used for a place of competition.
What is a "gymnasium" or "gymnasia" in Europe? A secondary school that places a strong emphasis on the sciences and academics (e.g., in Germany or Israel) and is designed to prepare students for the university.
Who were the Greeks? Around 1,800 B.C.E. the Greeks started forming as a unique culture. They derived from non-Greek Minoans who had ended a bronze age around 3,000 B.C.E. This culture was very aggressive and militaristic. Myceneans destroyed Crete but assumed the Minoan culture. In time they moved up the Peloponnesus.
The battle of Troy, which is described in the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer, took place around 1,200 B.C.E. Homer provides an epic tale of this battle. We have learned a lot about the Greek culture from this time period thanks to Homer's poem. Modern historians call this time period "Homeric Greece."
Around 1,000 B.C.E. Dorian Tribes came from the North and conquered the Myceneans. The mixing of the two cultures creates a common Greek language, religion, and sport. During the period of Homeric Greece (800 BC) the Greek culture was simple with respect to politics and its economics. The Greeks turned to the sea to develop wealth, especially, those living in the city state of Athens. This pattern lasted for 300 years, and by 500 B.C.E. Greece became the center of the economic empire in the Mediterranean.
Land was owned by a small group of people that formed an oligarchy--a system in which government and power is controlled by a few people (Modern Syria, e.g., is controlled by the Alawies that are less than 11% of the population, also Saudi Arabia and other Persian Golf nations fall in this category).
Tyrants (tyrannos in Greek) lead a revolt against the oligarchy and paved the way for the first Democracy (demokratia in Greek) or rule of the majority through a system of representation of the people. The tyrants paved the way for a democratic process by creating a mechanism of government turnover through cooperation. Formerly it was done by birth. Still, land owners run the show although their fortune was much newer. These were the only people that were allowed to vote. The democracy in ancient Greece was a democracy of the wealthy. To possess voting rights one had to be a citizen--Greek born, own land, slaves, and be a man. Women were not included in the democratic process.
The citizens were the only people who were allowed to vote. The voters made-up the ruling part of each city-state. Athens and Sparta were the two most famous city-states. Athens and Sparta were the two dominant force of the Greek civilization. By 700 B.C.E. Sparta was already militaristic. Spartans were contemptuous of intellectualism. They were generally suspicious and conservative. All that mattered to the Spartans was being a warrior.
Athens was the more democratic of the two city-states, and we know more about
Athens than Sparta because of the records Athenians kept. Athenians did not like the Spartans, so we must view what we know of Sparta with suspicion.

The city of Sparta was in the province of Laconia, thus the Spartans are also known as Laconians. The word "laconic" meaning brief, was derived from the fact that the Laconians were taught to speak to the point and only when necessary. Alexander the Great's father, Philip of Macedon once sent an envoy to Sparta stating that "If we enter your city, we will level it to the ground." The Spatan king's laconic answer "If!" made an impression on king Philip who decided to leave Sparta alone.

The Spartans are best known for their courage, strength, discipline, and harsh military training. We believe that Plato modeled his republic after Sparta. Characteristic of the Spartan system was the fact that the needs of the state preceded the needs of the individual (Does the failed communist system's emphasis on state or totalitarian China's system seem familiar?). Children were with their mothers who served as state nurses until the child reached the age of seven. Next the child moved from home to a state run school. From at seven children lived in barracks until the age of 20. This system facilitated a disciplined lifestyle. Obviously, education was militaristic. Cheating was O.K. as long as one did not get caught. Children were not adequately fed, so they had to steal food. From a very young age Spartan children had to learn cunningness and basic survival skills.

Education had functional goals--to prepare the future citizens that will have to live in and cope with the Spartan system. From the age of 18 to the age of 20 the males went through a compulsory military training, then the lucky ones that survived the many wars, served in the military until around the age 50. The Spartan system produced a strong fighting force that conquered other city states and kept their citizens as slaves. The ratio of Spartans to slaves was 1:100. Thus, the Spartans did not have to engage in any type of regular daily chores except for their military training, physical education, and preparation for Olympic competition. Activities practiced in physical education developed survival skills, such as, boxing, wrestling, running, dancing.

Spartans refrained from entering the boxing event in Olympics in which the rules stated that a participant must acknowledge defeat or die. The Spartans were not allowed to acknowledge defeat, so they did not enter. However, the Spartans produced many famous champions in other Olympic events.
A Spartan woman s value was established by her ability to bear sons. Yet, interestingly, women comprised a more central role in Spartan culture than Athenian women did. Spartan women were in charge of the home economics (men were often gone from home for long periods of time) and also in some instances would train horses and other chores not typical to Athenian women of the day. In Athens women were perceived as intellectually inferior an attitude that was not part of the Spartan culture (Spartans, however, had very little if any interest in intellectual pursuits).
Athens, like Sparta and many of the early civilizations, had a physical education system with a military bent. Physical prowess in Athenian culture, however, was secondary to civic responsibility and virtue. We learned about Athenian education through Plato, among others. The goal of education generally was to have harmony between mind and body.
It is from the Athenian philosophical perspective that we get much of our thinking on physical education. The thoughts of the Greeks from Athens are still with us today.
The system of education had some similarities to Sparta. Children began formal schooling at the age of seven. The Palaestra was used for physical education, music was studied and practiced in the gymnasium. Paidotribe charged a fee and ran a school.
Some privately owned and some state owned facilities for physical education and sports existed in Athens. Initially those facilities were for the exclusive use of citizens. By 400 B.C.E. the law stated that at least one Athenian parent would make the child a citizen.
Upper classes dominated in sport. Success in sport meant political power. Families competed against other families.
Athenians were not successful in Olympics, so no correlation between political power and athletic greatness can be substantiated.
During 500-400 B.C.E. ( golden age ) Athens became the major military and economic power in Greece. The power at that time shifted from the Oligarches (where the ruling power was in the hands of few) to a Democracy.
As the democratic system in Athens expanded it placed stronger emphasis on education which resulted in a culture of individualism. Prior to this trend the state (like in Sparta) was more important than the individual. With individualism comes Greek philosophy, which seeks to understand the world.
Education places an increasing emphasis on the mind. The teachers were called sophists (sophist s--wise man). Socrates is the most famous sophist we know, although he may not have been the best known in his day. Socrates was put to death for corrupting the youth.
New skills were now needed to maintain Athens new position as a military and economic power. People needed to think better for technological and political reasons, and to be better warriors.
Ironically, intellectualism created people who criticized sport, although these people were a minority. Plato is considered the father of physical education. Plato means "broad." It may have described his broad shoulders since he was an accomplished wrestler, or it may have described his broad forehead as he was a great mathematician and philosopher. It is ironic that one of history's most famous philosophers may have gotten his nickname from his coach.
The goal of education was to have character, which is developed through education of both body and mind.
Plato's Republic and philosophy of physical education.
We believe that Plato modeled his republic after Sparta. Some of the characteristics of Sparta were: (1) compulsory military training age 18-20; (2) children taken from the home and given an education; (3) the state was more important than the individual.
Physical education facilitated the goal of military preparation. Remember that the Greeks in general and the Athenians in particular were a very aggressive warrior type people.
Physical education as well as literary education is aimed at developing character. What is character? The ability to know the difference between the good and the not good; the beautiful and the not beautiful.
Virtue is the characteristic which is necessary to live the good life: courage, honesty, harmony, arete (striving for excellence), etc. . .Simplicity, according to Plato, is very important. One must live off the land and not engage in too many luxuries (avoid Syracusan and Sycilian cooking, do not fool around with girls, and avoid the delights of attic confectionery, and watch out for flatulence [pretentiousness]!).
Physical excellence does not of itself produce a good mind and character. On the other hand, excellence of mind and character will make the best of the physique it is given (Plato's Republic, p. 166)
The problem with athletes according to Plato was that they (1) slept too much--perhaps because of their diet (athletes consumed large amounts of meat, low carbohydrates, and worked out all the time. Like many athletes today they needed to sleep to recover from their workouts. Deviation from their routine led to Illness.

Plato's idea of a proper curriculum may shed additional light on his philosophy and views:

... the exact sciences - arithmetic, plane and solid geometry, astronomy, and harmonics - would first be studied for ten years to familiarise the mind with relations that can only be apprehended by thought. Five years would then be given to the still severer study of 'dialectic'. Dialectic is the art of conversation, of question and answer; and according to Plato, dialectical skill is the ability to pose and answer questions about the essences of things. The dialectician replaces hypotheses with secure knowledge, and his aim is to ground all science, all knowledge, on some 'unhypothetical first principle'. (Quote reproduced from article by: J. J. O'Connor and E. F. Robertson

In summary the purpose of education is not to train the mind and the body but rather to train for character. If one concentrates only on the mind, then the body becomes soft and one is what Homer calls "A feeble fighter." Strict physicality encourages confidence and energy and increases a person's confidence (today we use the terms self-esteem & self-efficacy), yet at the same time will cause an individual to become an unintelligent Philistine, with no use for reasoned discussion, and an animal addiction to settle everything by brute force. "[the Philistine's] life is one of clumsy ignorance, unrelieved by grace and beauty."
The decline and fall of ancient Greek sport is related to other aspects of Greek culture.
The erosion of their military in wars of attrition--Athens and Sparta conducted a war that lasted thirty years around 400 B.C.E. At the end of that war both city states were drained and never really recovered.
In addition, the Greeks lost their economic base to Rome, which was more efficient at commerce--roads were better, and the Romans did not turn the vanquished cultures into slave states but rather let them keep their independence and demanded them to pay taxes to Rome. This made Rome very rich. The Greek commerce was sea based since they lived in a very mountainous region were travel was very hard. Rome developed roads and communications that were more dependable and efficient.
(By the conclusion of this section of KIN 375 students are expected to be able to provide intelligent and complete answers to the following questions. Information may be gathered from the text, class notes, and independent library research. Students are encouraged to work in small groups and consult with instructor on a regular basis).
  • What is history and why should history (in general) and the history of physical education and sport be studied? Discuss the procedures for organizing historical data. How should one study history?
  • Describe and discuss the conditions which led to the development (flourishment) of Greek culture, physical education and sport.
  • Describe and discuss the characteristics of Mycenaean sport. What sport events are described by Homer?
  • Discuss the institutionalization of physical education and sport during the Archaic period of the Greek civilization. How were those institutions related to the polis (city-state) concept?
  • For what reasons did archaic and classical Greeks participate in physical education and sport?
  • Describe the relationship of the military to physical education in ancient Greek culture.
  • What role did religion play in ancient Greek sport?
  • What was the role of women in sport in ancient Greece? Were all the city-states the same in this respect?
  • Contrast the Spartan and Athenian educational systems. How did they differ, and what were the outcomes of each system?
  • How did the Greeks view the body? How does this position affect us today?
  • Were the ancient Greek athletes amateurs? Where did this idea originate from?
  • What according to modern Western standards, are the positive and negative values which can be ascribed to ancient Greek athletics? Discuss what modern Westerners can learn from ancient Greek education, physical education and sport?
    • The love of and joy in participating in physical activities;
    • sport contests took place in nature, thus nature was cherished and preserved;
    • children never fought against stronger peers and were forbidden to fight without adult supervision;
    • the use of a wide range of sport activities a fact that contributed to a well balanced and perfectly shaped body;
    e) the love and care of one s body, the responsibility to society, bravery, wisdom--were all accomplished through physical education and athletics.
Education, physical education and sports were not available to everybody. Only those who were Greek by blood could participate. In 430 B.C.E. only 20 % of the Athens residents were also citizens with full rights. Slaves comprised 75% of Athens population and the remaining 5% were foreigners.
"The Greeks considered physical development and training an important and absolute dictate of the gods. Health of body; beauty, perfection and strength of limb; endurance in competition and combat; a clear, courageous eye; and that confidence which comes only through facing danger: these were considered by the Greeks as being no less essential than mental development, shrewdness and artistic talent. The achieving of a balance between the physical and intellectual life, and the harmonious development of all natural powers and talents were the aim of Greek education."
Ernst Curtius
The development of character was emphasized over physical prowess. The development of the intellect was very important and preceded the development of the physical. A strong and fit body was incomplete and had to be supported by a sharp mind.
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