Ancient Olympians Got Odes Not Medals medals, Wheaties boxes, interviews on “Good Morning America,” or corporate sponsorships: The ancient Greeks celebrated their Olympic champions with poetry. “When anyone is victorious through his toil,” as Diane Svarlien translates a victory ode composed by Pindar, one of ancient Greece’s greatest lyric poets: “Then honey-voiced odes become the foundation for future fame, and a faithful pledge for the great deeds of excellence. This praise is dedicated to Olympian victors, without stint.” OK, the athletes did enjoy cash prizes, free meals for life, front-row seats at the theater, and tax exemptions—not to mention some pretty epic sex parties upon homecoming. But orgies, unlike odes, don’t last forever.

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