10 Weird Traditions From The Ancient Olympic Games

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8. Athletes Competing In The Nude

We’re not entirely sure why the Greeks insisted on letting it all hang loose. According to one legend, it all started when a runner tripped on his loincloth and decided to say to hell with clothes. Others think that the Greeks took competing naked as a matter of pride, believing that only a barbarian would try to hide his nakedness. Either way, they didn’t just go naked, they made a show out of it. They would lather themselves up with olive oil and parade around the stadium showing off.

The people loved it. Some even wrote poems about it. We have one from a poet named Bacchylides, who was trying to describe an athlete throwing a discus. He got so caught up in the moment, though, that he threw in, “In such a way, amid the vast, circling crowd of the Greeks, did he display his wondrous body.”

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