[FOUNTAIN]War threatens the Olympics’ Athens gamesThe Iliad of Homer, the epic drama of love, jealousy, war and revenge, is the story of the Trojan War. The all-out confrontation of the Greek gods and heroes has been an undying fountain of imagination for Westerners.
The Trojan War, which was in legend a war of gods, actually took place around 1,200 B.C. for hegemony over the Mediterranean. The hero of the half-legendary, half-historical war was Achilles, the commander of the Greek army. When he was a baby, his mother, Thetis, dipped him in the underworld river of Styx and made him invulnerable. But Thetis held him by the heels, and the unprotected parts became his fatal weakness.
What tipped the decade-long war to Greek’s favor was the death of Patroclus, a general Achilles had treasured. Furious at the death of his commander, Achilles defeated the Trojan general Hector and towed his body on a chariot. When revenge had run its course, Achilles arranged a grand funeral for Patroclus. After the cremation, Greek soldiers competed in chariot races, martial arts, boxing, archery, discus and javelin matches. The sports festival dedicated to the warrior was the first record of the Olympic games.
Ancient Greeks held the Olympic games as a festival and a sacred ritual in Olympia, where the temple of Zeus, the king of gods, was located. The games confirmed the unity of the city-states, including Athens, and they continued until the Roman emperor called them pagan and banned them in 392.
When the Olympics were revived in 1896, the first games were held in Greece to honor their origin. The Greek government has ever since demanded the permanent right to host the event there. In 1996, Athens wanted to host the games on the centennial of the modern Olympics. Instead, Athens hosts the 2004 Olympics. But only 100 days before the opening, the Greeks are not ready for the event. Construction of many necessary facilities is still in progress, and security and safety measures are questionable. U.S. athletes have repeatedly warned they might not participate in the games. On April 26, three bombs exploded simultaneously at a police station near housing for participants in the games. The celebration of peace and unity might be stained with blood and thunder as the war against Iraq haunts the world.
by Oh Byung-sang
The writer is the London correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.