AHC: Surviving Ancient Olympics

In honor of the soon to begin Tokyo Olympics I would like to issue the following AHC: have the Olympics survive christianisation, perhaps in playing for the Christian world a similar role then what it did for the Helenic one, and making it to the present day as something looking like the world-scale competition we are familiar with.
 
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Paradoxer

Kicked
In honor of the soon to begin Tokyo Olympics I would like to issue the following AHC: have the Olympics survive christianisation, perhaps in playing for the Christian world a similar role then what it did for the Helenic one, and making it to the present day as something looking like the world-scale competition we are familiar with.
No Christianity is easier. Athleticism and sports along with western material arts will be much more defined and organized events.

Wrestling is a sport even the poor can do unlike “knightly” events seen in Christian medieval or even hunting.

The issue is how the Bible and Christianity depicted the Colosseum which was straight up propagandistic at times and inaccurate. But issue is violence and the perceived “vanity”.

For example, Christianity at its Jewish roots didn’t always take too much to idea of wrestling in nude and “flexing”. Michelangelo actually got heat from conservative clergy for painting “nude pagan art” in a “holy place”.

It’s “idolization” of body and human physical abilities which can be considered a “sin” of “vanity” and excessive pride

The church at most allowed nobles their sports and peasants to do whatever among themselves at times. They likely don’t encourage or organize cultural sphere sports events. At least not until way more recently or more modern

Greco Roman world without Christianity would. A surviving Roman Empire might step up these events along with Hellenized or Greek people outside of empire
 
No Christianity is easier. Athleticism and sports along with western material arts will be much more defined and organized events.
Did people in the non-Hellenic parts of the Roman world have local Olympics? What's the evidence for that?
Wrestling is a sport even the poor can do unlike “knightly” events seen in Christian medieval or even hunting.
There is no reason to believe Christianity determined any of this.
The issue is how the Bible and Christianity depicted the Colosseum which was straight up propagandistic at times and inaccurate. But issue is violence and the
Apparently, slave gladiators fighting to the death against each other or animals was the peak of athleticism and the malicious Christians simply didn't see that.
perceived “vanity”.
Yeah, that's why the Byzantine empire didn't have popular sport competition like chariot racing... oh wait.
For example, Christianity at its Jewish roots didn’t always take too much to idea of wrestling in nude and “flexing”. Michelangelo actually got heat from conservative clergy for painting “nude pagan art” in a “holy place”.
Oh yes, because all Christians from 50 CE to 1900 CE all shared one monolithic attitude toward nudity and sports, from Ethiopia to Iceland.
I must have missed where in the bible god clearly states you cannot be half-naked.
It’s “idolization” of body and human physical abilities which can be considered a “sin” of “vanity” and excessive pride
The church at most allowed nobles their sports and peasants to do whatever among themselves at times. They likely don’t encourage or organize cultural sphere sports events. At least not until way more recently or more modern
Citation needed.
Greco Roman world without Christianity would. A surviving Roman Empire might step up these events along with Hellenized or Greek people outside of empire
You need to prove that the countless non Hellenic peoples in the Roman empire participated in this stuff in the same way as Greeks did, heck the idea that the Olympic games where something open to literally anyone rather than a specific subset to people doesn't seem obvious to me to begin with.
 
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Your issue is that the ancient Olympics were explicitly a religious festival in honour of Olympian Zeus (hence the name), which is why Christianity couldn't tolerate it. So, your best bet is to kill off or screw Christianity and any other aggressive monotheism and develop a philosophy in the Mediterranean region that really emphasises syncretism, such that the people running the festival come to see all people as eligible to participate, rather than just Greeks. This might also allow you to keep and expand the other Pan-Hellenic festivals.
 

Paradoxer

Kicked
Did people in the non-Hellenic parts of the Roman world have local Olympics? What's the evidence for that?

There is no reason to believe Christianity determined any of this.

Apparently, slave gladiators fighting to the death against each other or animals was the peak of athleticism and the malicious Christians simply didn't see that.

Yeah, that's why the Byzantine empire didn't have popular sport competition like chariot racing... oh wait.

Oh yes, because all Christians from 50 CE to 1900 CE all shared one monolithic attitude toward nudity and sports, from Ethiopia to Iceland.
I must have missed where in the bible god clearly states you cannot be half-naked.

Citation needed.

You need to prove that the countless non Hellenic peoples in the Roman empire participated in this stuff in the same way as Greeks did, heck the idea that the Olympic games where something open to literally anyone rather than a specific subset to people doesn't seem obvious to me to begin with.
You mistake me. My point was it spreading to be more inclusive to all groups of empire or at least the assimilatalong with organized into cross empire events.

Also a chariot race and anything involving horses or hunting game while technically sport is arguably its own sub category.

The Colosseum was not all blood sports or people fighting to death even among gladiators. Hell they had sex shows and plays in them too. Or even reenact navy battles by filling thing with water.

Christianity at its roots is tied to judaism heavily especially before Romans romanized religion bit(Roman Catholic Church is name). They often took more interest in religious studies and affairs more so then athletics.

A poor kid can be great wrestler and practice it anywhere. He can’t buy a chariot or might not have horse like more wealthy or nomadic people.

Also they wrestled in nude which made Jews feel uncomfortable especially when they had circumstanced penises Romans and Greeks thought was odd and negative. The skin does help protect tip with no clothes on which is likely chase in wrestling then.

Additionally, olympics original tie to traditions of pre Christian faith and philosophy of Greco Roman world/religions. Vanity is form of idolization in some Christian circles.
 
You need to prove that the countless non Hellenic peoples in the Roman empire participated in this stuff in the same way as Greeks did, heck the idea that the Olympic games where something open to literally anyone rather than a specific subset to people doesn't seem obvious to me to begin with.
At least in the Classical period, only Greeks were allowed to participate. Herodotus reports an anecdote about a king of Macedonia who tried to compete; the other athletes objected to letting a barbarian enter the contest, until the king was able to produce a pedigree "proving" that his family originally came from Argos.
Your issue is that the ancient Olympics were explicitly a religious festival in honour of Olympian Zeus (hence the name), which is why Christianity couldn't tolerate it. So, your best bet is to kill off or screw Christianity and any other aggressive monotheism and develop a philosophy in the Mediterranean region that really emphasises syncretism, such that the people running the festival come to see all people as eligible to participate, rather than just Greeks. This might also allow you to keep and expand the other Pan-Hellenic festivals.
Is there any way to make the Olympics gradually lose their religious connotations, enough that *Theodosius can simply abolish the pagan elements whilst still keeping the athletic parts?
The Colosseum was not all blood sports or people fighting to death even among gladiators. Hell they had sex shows and plays in them too. Or even reenact navy battles by filling thing with water.
The naval battles were very much blood sports. Heck, even the plays often featured real deaths (a condemned criminal would be substituted for the regular actor when it was time for the big death scene).
 

Paradoxer

Kicked
At least in the Classical period, only Greeks were allowed to participate. Herodotus reports an anecdote about a king of Macedonia who tried to compete; the other athletes objected to letting a barbarian enter the contest, until the king was able to produce a pedigree "proving" that his family originally came from Argos.

Is there any way to make the Olympics gradually lose their religious connotations, enough that *Theodosius can simply abolish the pagan elements whilst still keeping the athletic parts?

The naval battles were very much blood sports. Heck, even the plays often featured real deaths (a condemned criminal would be substituted for the regular actor when it was time for the big death scene).
Your going to have plenty of cases like the Macedonia one at first but Hellenized “barbarians” could eventually join in. Thinking more Roman Empire era those is when this slowly becomes more common.
 
Yeah, that's why the Byzantine empire didn't have popular sport competition like chariot racing... oh wait.
Truth be told the clergy of the time really wanted to abolish or at least curb the influence these forms of entertainment (chariot racing, theatre etc.) had on the people, since it would actually strengthen the Church’s grip over them. Do keep in mind that the Romans already saw (at least officially) the members of this world as the lowest scum in society (while still enjoying the entertainment they could provide, the two things were not necessarily contradictory). That’s why Theodora was seen as an insult to roman social norms. This was therefore another point in why the church tried to get rid of them. The reason they couldn’t was because the people enjoyed them, the aristocracy did (no matter what they had to say about this layer of society) and the emperor saw the value in keeping them around (in addition to enjoying them as well) and was willing to pander to the clergy and their demands only up to a certain point. Granted there are differences between plays, Olympic games, chariot racing and gladiator fights. However, to answer the OP it seems that one of the reason why the games were prohibited was also because of the rampant corruption dominating them, so really by the end of the IV century they no longer were this noble and virtuous event everyone is fond of.
 
Is there any way to make the Olympics gradually lose their religious connotations, enough that *Theodosius can simply abolish the pagan elements whilst still keeping the athletic parts?
Probably not, not while Greco-Roman polytheism is still a living religion that the Christian power structure is trying to stamp out, since closing and destroying temples and banning festivals were the main ways they did this. This is because, like many polytheistic and animistic religions, Greco-Roman polytheism was orthopractic, puting emphasis on correct behaviour and ritual without caring much about belief. This means that festivals like the Olympics had to be carried out in a very particular way, and doing so was an inherently religious act regardless of what the participants believed. Participation was in and of itself an act of religious devotion, which was not something Christianity could tolerate. And given that Greco-Roman polytheism wasn't stamped out until well into the early Middle Ages, I don't really see a point at which it would be weak enough to lose control of the Olympics while Christianity is simultaneously secure enough in its dominance that it would feel comfotable allowing the festival to persist.
 
Probably not, not while Greco-Roman polytheism is still a living religion that the Christian power structure is trying to stamp out, since closing and destroying temples and banning festivals were the main ways they did this. This is because, like many polytheistic and animistic religions, Greco-Roman polytheism was orthopractic, puting emphasis on correct behaviour and ritual without caring much about belief. This means that festivals like the Olympics had to be carried out in a very particular way, and doing so was an inherently religious act regardless of what the participants believed. Participation was in and of itself an act of religious devotion, which was not something Christianity could tolerate. And given that Greco-Roman polytheism wasn't stamped out until well into the early Middle Ages, I don't really see a point at which it would be weak enough to lose control of the Olympics while Christianity is simultaneously secure enough in its dominance that it would feel comfotable allowing the festival to persist.
Actually while Greco-Roman Polytheism died out as a visible religion in the High Middle Ages, Ottoman Records as late as the 1650s record a few isolated communities in the mountainous interior of Greece sacrificing to the 'old gods' as Ottoman records called the Olympian Pantheon.
 
For example, Christianity at its Jewish roots didn’t always take too much to idea of wrestling in nude and “flexing”. Michelangelo actually got heat from conservative clergy for painting “nude pagan art” in a “holy place”.
Uh, it was ONE cardinal - the papal chamberlain, Biagio Martinelli - who objected to the "wall of nudes" in the Last Judgement. Michelagelo dismissed him as "an interfering halfwit" and said: "here we have the final judgement, and all he [Biagio] is worried about is what we're going to be wearing. Or not wearing." And then painted Martinelli into the fresco as Minos, king of hell, with an ass' ears and a snake swallowing Martinelli's um...snake
 

Paradoxer

Kicked
Uh, it was ONE cardinal - the papal chamberlain, Biagio Martinelli - who objected to the "wall of nudes" in the Last Judgement. Michelagelo dismissed him as "an interfering halfwit" and said: "here we have the final judgement, and all he [Biagio] is worried about is what we're going to be wearing. Or not wearing." And then painted Martinelli into the fresco as Minos, king of hell, with an ass' ears and a snake swallowing Martinelli's um...snake
There always been back and forth on this in western history since rise of Christianity. Basically competing cultural legacies or influences at times is best way to put it.

I’ll use women as example. Even Romans who were very patriarchal and even some Greeks like Spartans had athletics for women. Separate events but still their own events because even their biggest meat heads and misogynists even understand “athletic women equal athletic baby and healthier at producing and raising kids when young.

The church like it’s Jewish sided influences counterparts or other near eastern religions did not take kindly to women doing any athletics or “unladylike” labor.

Even if men wrestling in nude and flexing their muscles in public to show off or making statues to exaggerate such things, women in sports were often taboo in traditional Christian circles until recently. Their athletics in classical world just involved more acrobatics, flexibility, and skills tied more to stuff they did. Less contact in nature.

The church always been “iffy” or “suspicious” of “homo exotic” undertones or perceived ones the classical pre Christian world had.

I’ll use wrestling for example: Your in nude wrestling men in dirt. The goal is to pin him down and physically dominate them to show your strength and prowess as man because if you can pin and wear someone down like that by grappling you could literally rape them(which I have heard used and likely among Romans themselves to describe domination of another which they did do to men to. But their always had to be “beta/bottom/penetrated” and “alpha/top/penetrator” in relationship.

It’s very individualist and gritty sports that plays up hyper masculinity trends up by a lot. It’s literally dick swinging contest at times. Hell some more “endowed” Romans or Greeks probably did exactly that after winning or dominating opponent in front of large crowd.

You did have sexual events often along athletic ones in Greco Roman world. A lot unfiltered emotions and hormones about.

They even took primitive performance enhancers and drugs for advantage. They actually thought you were not trying hard enough if you did not do whatever it took to win.

For example, stealing in Christianity is sin. Spartans would starve their kids or give them barely enough to survive to force them to steal or scavenge for their own. They got beaten when caught not because they stole because they got caught therefore failed.

The church was probably often off put by “environment” and atmosphere there. Look at European soccer games now. Imagine how rowdy Romans or Greeks got for the Colosseum or olympics.

They likely had their own olympic “village” too full of women to hook up with before or during games,
 
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