At the core of Greek athletics was an individual's hard physical struggle in order to gain victory over an opponent; hence, it included not only (as ‘athletics’ implies nowadays) track and field events but also *boxing, *wrestling, and equestrian events (see
The first substantial description of Greek practice comes from *Homer's account of the funeral games for *Patroclus (Il. 23. 262–897; cf. Od. 8. 120–30). Eight events are mentioned there (chariot-racing, boxing, wrestling, running, *javelin, an event similar to fencing, throwing the weight, and archery); the five in italics regularly formed the central part of all later games.Less
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