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Check out the most crazy things ancient greeks did! This top 10 list of crazy facts about ancient greece and their culture is absolutely amazing!
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10. Milo of Croton
The Ancient Greeks invented progressive strength training. Milo of Croton won six Olympiads in the wrestling events. He also won multiple times at the Pythian Games, Isthmian Games, and Nemean Games. Milo loved to show off his strength and dexterity. According to sources, his favorite trick was to hold a pomegranate and have people try to take it from him. No one was strong enough to take the pomegranate from him and he also managed to not damage the fruit. How did he gain such prodigious strength and skill?
According to popular legend, Milo noticed a newborn calf near his home. He decided to lift the animal and carry it on his shoulders. He returned the next day and did it again. He did it every day until the calf grew to a four-year-old bull. Thus was progressive strength training born.
Here’s another wild athlete story. Theagenes of Thasos was a formidable fighter who won over 1,300 bouts over his two decade career. He even won a crown for long-distance running in the city of Argos. As a boxer, he was never defeated. According to legend, years after his, a vandal tried to deface a statue honoring Theagenes. The bronze statue broke in half and crushed the would-be criminal.
9. Birth Control by Sneezing
The Ancient Greeks had various forms of birth control. Some forms involved certain herbs and plants, which worked very well. However, one physician, Soranus, advised women to do something a little odd. After intercourse, women were told to squat and sneeze to avoid becoming pregnant. He also suggested jumping up and down to dislodge the sperm.
If that’s not crazy enough for you, the website Snopes.com was still debunking the “jump up and down” method of birth control as recently as 2007.
8. Brazen Bull
In the 6th century BC, a brass worker named Perilaus of Athens created a large, hollow bull made of brass and gave it to a ruler named Phalaris. A door on the side of the bull allowed a man to climb into the sculpture. Once the door was closed, a fire could be lit from underneath and slowly roast the person.
But it doesn’t end there. In the head of the bull was a series of stops and pipes that transformed the screams of the person into “the tenderest, most pathetic, most melodious of bellowings”. Phalaris was far from impressed. So disgusted by the piece, he asked Perilaus to climb into the bull and demonstrate the capabilities of the pipes. Once inside, Phalaris shut the door and ordered a fire lit beneath the bull. He reportedly said, “Receive the due reward of your wondrous art; let the music-maker be the first to play.”
Before Perilaus, they removed him from the bull and threw him off a cliff. Despite Phalaris’s disgust, the brazen bull became the most common form of in Ancient Greece.
Here’s an extra fact. Phalaris was a tyrant ruling in Acragas in Sicily from 570 BC to 554. He’s known for several building projects but he did have a cruel streak that made him the proverbial “evil tyrant”. According to legend, after he was overthrown by a general, the new ruler ordered Phalaris to roast inside the brazen bull.
7. Victorious Corpse
Did you know? Cheating was a huge problem in Ancient Greek sport, just like today. Most of the time, it was the usual bribery or foul moves during games. Here is a picture of a scene on a kylix depicting two pankratists fighting. One of them is trying to gouge out the eye of his opponent while simultaneously biting. The umpire is preparing to strike the fighter for the foul.
Some fighters would find an easier way and try to curse or hex their opponents using “curse tablets” to make them lose.
An event held during the Olympic Games was the pankration, which was a mixed martial arts style that blended boxing and wrestling. Most famous of the pankratists was Arrhachion. During the 54th Olympiad in 564 BC, Arrhachion entered the pankration to defend his championship. However, his opponent got the better of him and put Arrachion into a chokehold. It is said Arrhachion’s trainer shouted, “What a fine funeral if you do not submit at Olympia”. Arrhachion responded by twisting and kicking his opponent’s foot and dislocating it. The pain forced his opponent to surrender. Unfortunately, the move broke Arrhachion’s neck. Despite that, the judges named Arrhachion the victor. he successfully defended his title.
His fame spread as people held him up as the athletic ideal. Geographer Pausanias mentioned a statue immortalizing Arrhachion during his description of Phigalia