Friday, February 21, 2014

Weird Word of the Week: Olympics

Good morning, Dear Readers! Do you all have Olympic Fever? (Madame L capitalizes both words because they are used that way, as if they connote a disease, as in "Asian Flu" or "Rheumatoid Arthritis.")

Madame L has her own muted version of Olympic Fever: That is, she uses her handy DVR to record each day's main events, then watches them in the evening or the next day, while she is budy doing other things. That's not because Madame L has anything against the games or athletes themselves, but because she hates the commercials, long talking points, background stories about the athletes, medal counts, and slow-mo repeats of every single point and twizzle.

At any rate, "Olympics" refers (of course) to the Olympic Games, which Wikipedia has a lot of unnecessary and uninteresting information about, such as "The Olympic Games are considered the world's foremost sports competition with more than 200 nations participating. The Olympic Games are held every four years..."

We all knew that already, did we not? So Madame L scrolled down to the subtitle "Ancient Olympics" to read the following:

"The Ancient Olympic Games were religious and athletic festivals held every four years at the sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia, Greece. Competition was among representatives of several city-states and kingdoms of Ancient Greece. These Games featured mainly athletic but also combat sports such as wrestling and the pankration, horse and chariot racing events. It has been widely written that during the Games, all conflicts among the participating city-states were postponed until the Games were finished. This cessation of hostilities was known as the Olympic peace or truce. This idea is a modern myth because the Greeks never suspended their wars. The truce did allow those religious pilgrims who were traveling to Olympia to pass through warring territories unmolested because they were protected by Zeus."

Madame L especially enjoyed reading these sentences: "This cessation of hostilities was known as the Olympic peace or truce. This idea is a modern myth because the Greeks never suspended their wars."

Madame L wonders if there has ever been a time in history when any big country ever suspended its wars. Or any small country. (Madame L is thinking of Venezuela and the Ukraine, which seem to be at war with their own people.)

As cynical as Madame L may appear to be about the modern Olympics and our warlike human nature, she is glad that we continue to hold Olympic Games every few years.

Next week, Madame L will write about another weird word which comes from the ancient Olympics.

Best wishes to all the athletes from every country, and particularly to all the truly amateur athletes in every little town and school around the world,

Madame L

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