15 August 2004

Athens 2004: Opening Ceremony

We can be certain Greek male athletes will not compete in the nude, as Tony Perrottet tells in the just published The Naked Olympics (Random House, $24.95), a book of enchanting detail which explains how these pagan spectacles began in 776BC with a single footrace won by Coroebus, a cook.

There were no team sports, no marathon and no torch-lighting ceremony (introduced in Berlin in 1936).

Corruption began in 336BC, when Euplos of Thessaly bribed three boxers to throw their fights. Cheating became a Games staple; the culprits were fined and the money used for statues of Zeus. False starts earned a thrashing from the official whip bearer.

Women were not permitted to watch the events but off-course sexuality was rife. Perrottet claims details of a sexual position known as 'the lion on the cheese grater' are "regrettably lost".

Australian bloggers seem to be fascinated by the torch. The arguments are running hot between a megaphallos and an unconscious representation of the kind of cigarette that Bill Clinton claims not to have inhaled. Thank God none of us knew about lions and cheese graters when we watched.

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