The Olympic Games
The Olympic Games began over 2,700 years ago in Olympia, in southwest Greece. The Games were part of a religious festival. The Greek Olympics, thought to have begun in 776 BC, inspired the modern Olympic Games (begun in 1896) The Games were held in honor of Zeus, king of the gods, and were staged every four years at Olympia, a valley near a city called Elise. People from all over the Greek world came to watch and take part.
Women at Olympia
Only men, boys and unmarried girls were allowed to attend the Olympic Games. Married women were not allowed into the Olympic Games. Any women caught sneaking in were punished! Women could own horses in the chariot race though.
Unmarried women had their own festival at Olympia every four years. This was the Hernia, held in honor of Hera, wife of Zeus. Women could compete in running races, though only unmarried girls took part. Winners were awarded crowns of sacred olive branches, the same as men. As a rule Greek women did not go in for sport, unless they were Spartans.