Text 5. Religions and sports festivals



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Text 5. Religions and sports festivals



Read the text and do the tasks that follow.

“Our city is an education to Greece”, boasted Pericles, the leader of Athens, in 430 B.C. This was Greece’s Golden Age, when Athens blossomed as a center of democratic government and achievements in the arts and sciences. Although Athens and the other Greek city-states eventually fell to foreign invaders, their accomplishments have been passed down through the ages.

Sports events were important in ancient Greece. Every four years, beginning in 776 B.C., the Greeks held an athletic competition called Olympics, which was open to all Greek men. At first this competition consisted of one event, a foot-race of about 200 yards. Later the Olympics were expanded to include longer races, wrestling, boxing, discus throwing, horse races, and chariot races. The modern-day Olympics are modeled after these Greek games.

The Greeks considered the Olympics so important that nothing, not even war, was allowed to interfere with them. However, the function of these competitions was not simply to entertain. The main purpose of the Olympics and other public events and festivals was to honor the gods.

The Olympic Games honored Zeus, the father of the Greek gods. The games were named after Mount Olympus, the highest peak in Greece. The Greeks believed that Zeus sat on a golden throne atop Mount Olympus and ruled all other gods and all of the Greeks. In fact, they thought of Zeus as master of the entire world.

All Greeks, no matter what city-state they lived in, worshiped Zeus and his family of gods. The Greeks thought these gods controlled both the world of nature and the human world.

The myths and legends of the Greeks celebrated their gods. These traditional stories explained the roles of the gods in creating the world and causing natural events.

The stories also told of the great power of their gods. For example, Zeus was portrayed as powerful, stern, and commanding. In Homer’s poem the Iliad, Zeus boasts about how he could control the world with a cord of gold dropped from the sky.

“Yet whenever I might strongly be minded to pull you, I could drag you up, earth and all and sea and all with you, then fetch the golden rope about the horn of Olympus and make it fast, so that all once more should dangle in mid air. So much stronger am I than the gods, and stronger than mortals.”

The gods of Greek myths formed a family, and each member had a specific role with particular duties and powers. Zeus, as head of the family, set standards of justice and made sure that humans and gods followed them. He also controlled the weather and punished wrongdoing with bolts of thunder and raging storms.

Poseidon, Zeus’s brother, was the god of the sea. Hera, Zeus’s wife, was the goddess of marriage. Zeus’s son Ares was the god of war. Another of his sons, Dionysus, was the god of wine. His son Apollo was the god of light, who drove the sun across the sky each day in his golden carriage. Apollo also was the god of health, herding, and prophecy.

The Greeks prayed to specific gods for things they wanted. For example, a sick person might pray to Apollo for a speedy recovery. The Greeks thanked the gods by making animal sacrifices when their prayers were granted. They also made sacrifices to the gods before competing in sports, going of to war, or setting sail on a long voyage.

The Greeks also built sacred places called sanctuaries to honor their gods. People from the entire Aegean world traveled to these sanctuaries to worship their many gods.

The sanctuaries were built in areas of great natural beauty. Each sacred site had its own unique traditions that had been established over hundreds of ears.

Olympia, where the Olympic games were held, was a sanctuary to Zeus. A winding river ran through the site, and a thickly wooded area made it a place of peace and serenity. Olympia was a perfect site for sports competition, because the land in the broad river valley was flat. On this level plain, the Greeks easily laid out large courses on which the foot races, horse races, and chariot races could be run during the Olympics. The Greeks believed that Zeus and the gods took special delight in watching great athletes display their skill and strength in open competition.

The Greeks honored Apollo at Delphi. Each city-state sent gifts to the sanctuary. Because the site was considered sacred, no thief would think of robbing it. Therefore, many people left their gold and silver in the shrines at Delphi for safekeeping. Located halfway up a mountain overlooking a lush river valley, Delphi was a most impressive site. The sanctuary was most famous for its oracle to the god Apollo. Like the ancient Chinese, the Greeks believed oracles were predictions. The Greeks believed gods and goddesses revealed hidden knowledge through these oracles. The Greeks also called the shrines where these messages were revealed oracles.

At these oracles, priests or priestesses interpreted the messages of the gods. The messages were often hard to understand.

The oracle at Delphi was considered the most powerful of the Greek oracles. People from all over the Aegean world came to Delphi seeking advice.

According to Greek myth, the island of Delos was Apollo’s birthplace. Like Delphi, the Delos sanctuary had an oracle to Apollo. Every five years the Greeks held a sports competition there to honor Apollo.

Eleusis, on the coast of mainland Greece near Athens, was the site of a sanctuary to Demeter, the goddess of grain. Athenians made pilgrimages each to Eleusis during the planting and harvest seasons. They also made sacrifices to Demeter and offered prayers for an abundant harvest. These religious rituals highlighted the importance of agriculture in ancient Greece.

The Greeks also honored their gods and goddesses by holding religious festivals. Many of these festivals, such as the Olympic games, centered on sports. Other ceremonies featured religious rituals and animal sacrifices.

One group of festivals has had a lasting influence on Western civilization. These were the drama festivals honoring Dionysus, the god of wine.

 

Word Check

 

Ex. 1.Find in the text a word or an expression which mean the following.

1) an athletic competition, 6) the god of wine,
2) the father of the Greek gods, 7) the god of light and also the god of health, herding and prophesy,
3) the god of the sea, 8) sacred places,
4) the goddess of marriage, 9) a place for safekeeping
5) the god of war, 10) answer given at a place where questions about the future were asked of the Gods.

Comprehension

Ex. 1.Say if the statements are true or false.

1. At first the Olympics consisted of one event, chariot races.

2. The modern-day Olympics are modeled after these Greek games.

3. The function of these competitions was simply to entertain.

4. The games were named after Apollo, the highest peak in Greece.

5. The myths and legends explained the roles of the gods in revealing hidden knowledge.

6. The gods of Greek myths formed a competition, and each member has a specific role with particular duties and powers.

7. Zeus controlled the weather and drove the sun across the sky each day in his golden carriage.

8. Poseidon was the god of health, herding, and prophecy.

9. The Greeks thanked the gods by competing in sports.

10. The Greeks built sacred places called oracles to honor their gods.

11. Olympia, where the Olympic games were held, was a sanctuary to Apollo.

12. At these oracles metics and slaves interpreted the messages of the gods.

Ex. 2.Answer the following question.

1. What events were important in ancient Greece?

2. When did the Greeks begin to hold the Olympics?

3. What did they include?

4. Why did the Greeks consider the Olympics so important?

5. Who did the Olympic Games honor?

6. What did the Greeks think of their gods?

7. What did the myths and legends of plain?

8. What specific role did each member of the family have?

9. How did the Greeks thank their gods?

10. When did they make sacrifices to the gods?

11. What was Olympia?

12. What was sanctuary at Delphi most famous for?

13. What was Apollo’s birthplace?

14. What religious rituals highlighted the importance of agriculture in Ancient Greece?

Ex. 3.Speak on.

1. The importance of the Olympics.

2. The family of Greek Gods.

3. The roles of the Gods.

4. Worshiping the gods.

5. Sanctuaries to the Gods.

Text 6. Greek Drama

Read the text and do the tasks that follow.

Twice a year, writers throughout Greece composed plays that were presented at festivals in Athens to honor Dionysus, the god of human and agricultural fertility. The Cult of Dionysus practiced ritual celebrations. A key part of the rites of Dionysus was the dithyramb. The dithyramb was an ode to Dionysus. It was usually performed by a chorus of fifty men dressed as satyrs – mythological half-human, half-goat servants of Dionysus. They played drums, lyres and flutes, and chanted as they danced around an effigy of Dionysus. Although it began as a purely religious ceremony, like a hymn in the middle of a mass, the dithyramb over time would evolve into stories, drama and the play form. The plays produced on the Athenian stages are one of the lasting contributions of the Greeks. Most of the plays told stories about Greek gods or heroes. They combined religion and history with entertainment. Most popular were the tragedies. Tragedy, derived from the Greek words tragos (goat) and ode (song), told a story that was intended to teach religious lessons. Much like Biblical parables, tragedies were designed to show the right and wrong paths in life.

Tragedies were not simply plays with bad endings, nor pathos (another Greek word, meaning pitiable people or events). They depicted the life voyages of people who steered themselves on collision courses with society, life’s rules or simply fate.

Tragedy did not develop in a vacuum. It was an outgrowth of what was happening at the time in Athens. On one hand, Greek religion had dictated for centuries how people should think and behave. On the other hand, there was a flourishing of free thought and intellectual inquiry. Athens in the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. was bustling with radical ideas like democracy, philosophy, mathematics, science and art.

During a festival for Dionysus, plays were presented from dawn until dark for four days. Three days were devoted to tragic plays. Tragedy was not the only product of Athens’ flourishing theatre culture; comedy also thrived. Not only did the Greeks produce many lasting comedies, they also cast the molds for many Roman, Elizabethan and modern comedies.

The historical development of comedy was not as well-recorded as that of tragedy. Aristotle notes in The Poetics that before his own time comedy was considered trivial and common – though when it was finally recognized as an art form.

Greek comedy had two stages: Old Comedy, represented by Cratinus and Aristophanes; and New Comedy, whose main exponent was Menander.

Comedieswere presented for only one day during the festival. Like comedies today, the Greek comedies made fun of a wide range of topics, from politics to everyday life.

All business in Athens closed during the festivals to Dionysus. Thousands of people headed to the open-air amphitheater to watch the plays. The city even released prisoners from jail so that they could go to the festival.

A jury of Athenian citizens judged the plays and awarded ivy crown to the writer of the winning plays. Many of the prizewinning plays are still performed today.

 

Work Check

Ex. 1.Match the words in column A with their definition in column B.

A B
1) Dionysus 2) a rite 3) the dithyramb 4) a satyr 5) an effigy 6) a parable 7) a tragedy 8) pathos 9) to steer 10) an outgrowth 11) a comedy 12) to thrive 13) to cast molds for 14) an exponent a) to direct the course of (a bort, ship car) b) natural development c) to prosper d) to became models for e) is a representative or example f) the god of human or agricultural fertility g) the god of the woods, a half-man and a half-goat h) a ceremony in religious services i) an ode to Dionysus j) representation of a person (in wood stone) k) a play with a sad ending l) a word for pitiable people or events m) a simple story designed to teach a moral lesson n) a branch of drama that deals with everyday life and humorous events

Ex. 2.Arrange the following in pairs of synonyms:

A B
1) fertility 2) rites 3) a dithyramb 4) to chant 5) an effigy 6) to derive 7) to depict 8) to steer 9) an outgrowth 10) inquiry 11) to thrive 12) an exponent 13) a flourishing a) religious ceremonies b) an ode c) to sing d) a scarecrow e) to originate f) to describe g) productivity h) to direct i) development j) study k) to prosper l) a representative m) a blossoming

Ex. 3.Complete the sentences, use the words and expressions from the text.

1. Twice a year, writers throughout Greece … plays that were presented at … in Athens to honor Dionysus.

2. The Cult of Dionysus, the god of … practiced ritual celebrations.

3. A key part of the … Dionysus was the dithyramb.

4. The … was an ode to Dionysus.

5. They played drums, … and … .

6. A chorus of fifty men dressed as satyrs chanted as they danced around … of Dionysus.

7. Tragedy, … from the Greek words tragos (goat) and ode (song), told a story that was intended to each … lessons.

8. Much like Biblical … tragedies were designed to show the right and wrong paths in life.

9. They … the life voyages of people who … themselves on collision courses with society.

10. There was a … of free thought and intellectual … .

11. Comedy also … .

12. The Greek comedy writer … for many Roman, Elizabethan and modern comedies.

_______________________________________________________________

Words for reference: thrived, cast the molds, composed, festivals, human and agricultural fertility, rites, lyres and flutes, and effigy, dithyramb, derived, parables, religious, depicted, steered, flourishing, inquiry.

Comprehension

Ex. 1.Complete the sentences, use the information from the text.

1. Twice a year writer throughout Greece composed plays that were presented … .

2. A key part of the rites of Dionysus was … .

3. Tragedy, derived from the Greek words tragos (goat) and ode (song), told a story … .

4. Tragedies were not simply plays with bad endings, they depicted … .

5. Tragedy did not develop in a vacuum. It was … .

6. Comedy also thrived. Not only did the Greeks produce … .

7. Greek comedy had two stages … .

8. Greek comedies made fun of … .

9. Thousands of people headed to … .

10. A jury of Athenian citizens judged the plays and … .

Ex. 2.Say if the statements are true or false.

1. Every year writers and philosophers throughout Greece composed plays that were presented in Athens to honor Zeus.

2. A key part of the rites of Dionysus were the Olympic Games.

3. A chorus of fifty men dressed as satyrs mythological half-human, half-goat servants of Apollo played violins, organs and pianos and chanted as they danced around an effigy of Demeter.

4. Tragedy told a story that was intended to make fun of the Gods, Athenian institutions and popular figures.

5. Tragedies were not simply plays with bad ending nor pathos (another Greek work meaning pitiable people or events).

6. Athens in the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. still was not interested in radical ideas like democracy, philosophy, mathematics, science and art.

7. Tragedy was not the only product of Athen’s flourishing theatre culture, parables also thrived.

8. The Greek comedies also cast the molds for many Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian comedies.

9. Like comedies today, the Greek comedies depicted the life voyages of people who steered themselves on collision courses with society.

10. A jury of five ephors judged the plays and awarded a plot of land to the writes of the winning plays.

Ex. 3.Answer the following questions.

1. How did the Greeks honour Dionyses?

2. What was a key part of the rites of Dionyses?

3. How was the dithyramb performed?

4. What is a tragedy?

5. How did it develop?

6. What is a comedy?

7. What was closed in Athens during the festivals to Dionysus?

8. Who did the city release?

9. Who judged the plays?

10. What were the winners awarded?

Ex. 4.Speak about

a) the tragedy

b) the comedy



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