The Olympics and play in ancient times

Eva Cantarella

The Olympics and play in ancient times

may sat 28, 2016 - 11.00 a.m.
piazza del Duomo
 admission euro 3.00

Going back in time a few millennia and re-evaluating play in the Greek world is not merely a scholarly curiosity. More than a century’s worth of sociological and anthropological studies have taught us that play is a crucial facet in a community’s culture. So, reliving the story of “formal” games in the lives of our oldest European ancestors, including the Olympic Games – with the 31st edition of the modern era taking place in Rio in a few months – enables us to investigate several aspects that are anything but secondary to our history. This leads us to ask how much of that culture have we inherited – for better and for worse – and how much of it have we jettisoned? More specifically: what system of social ethics underpinned the ancient games? In what areas of life were interpersonal relations governed by games, which were mainly though not exclusively competitive? And what was the meaning and value of winning? 

Eva Cantarella has taught in Italy and abroad. She is now a Professor of Ancient Greek Law at the Milan University. She’s written several essays on Law and on different aspects of the Roman and Greek world. Among them are: Norma e sanzione in Omero (Giuffrè, 1979); I supplizi capitali. Origini e funzioni della pena di morte in Grecia e a Roma (1991), Secondo natura. La bisessualità nel mondo antico (1995) published by Rizzoli; Itaca. Eroi, donne, potere tra vendetta e diritto (2002), L’amore è un dio. Il sesso e la polis (2007), Dammi mille baci. Veri uomini e vere donne nell’antica Roma (2009) published by Feltrinelli; Il ritorno della vendetta. Pena di morte: giustizia o assassinio? (Rizzoli, 2007); I giorni di Milano (con altri autori, 2010), “Sopporta, cuore...”. La scelta di Ulisse (2010) published by Editori Laterza; Non commettere adulterio (with P. Ricca, il Mulino, 2011); Nascere, vivere e morire a Pompei (with L. Jacobelli, Mondadori Electa, 2011); I greci, i romani e noi (2014), Non sei più mio padre (2015), L’importante è vincere. Da Olimpia a Rio de Janeiro (with E. Miraglia, 2016) published by Feltrinelli; Ippopotami e sirene. I viaggi di Omero e di Erodoto (Utet, Dialoghi sull’uomo, 2014).