The original Olympic Games were an ancient Greek festival, held at the end of every fourth year at Olympia, in Southern Greece. They had a semi-religious character, and were open to members of all branches of the Greek race.
During the festival no fighting was allowed anywhere in Greece. The winner of the Games received only a wreath of wild olive, but the prize was valued above anything else that a Greek could obtain. The winning of it conferred permanent glory on the country as well as the family of the victor.
The first Games of which there is a record were held in 776 B.C., from which year Greek dates were reckoned, each games year being called an Olympiad. Thus, 772 B.c. was the second Olympiad, 768 B.c. the third Olympiad, and so on. The fact that the Olympiads were made the basis of Greek chronology shows the great importance attached to these contests. The Games continued to be observed for over 1,100 years, and were not finally abolished till A.D. 394· The modern Olympic Games date from 1896, when an athletic meeting open to the whole world was held at Athens. They preserve a link with the Games of Ancient Greece in the Olympic Flame which is kindled in the ruins of the Temple of Zeus in Greece and borne by runners to the place where the Games are being held.