Sport and history have many more links than one might think. In particular, it was Greek culture that attributed to sport activities revelance. In fact, the ancient Greeks argued that physical beauty should correspond to moral perfection, according to the principle of kalokagathìa.
Basically, beauty and goodness in Hellenic culture tended to coincide, since the external equilibrium that characterized an harmonic body derived from the internal one, consisting in the ability to control emotions and passions. For this reason, Greek art has come to us mainly through towards vases and sculptures that enhance male nudity, intended as the highest expression of discipline.
Specifically, what is handed down through Greek art is an athletic
nude,since only thanks to sport could athletes achieve a sort of ideal balance between body and spirit. Consequently, in many sculptures or ceramics from the Greek era the absolute protagonist is the athlete, depicted in the act of practicing a specific sport.
An excellent example is represented by the Panathenaic amphorae preserved in the archaeological museum
of Taranto: their name is linked to the feast of the Great Panathenae, a sporting event that took place in the city of Athens. The amphorae were awarded to athletes who had distinguished themselves in certain disciplines, the same ones that were then painted on the surface of each. Today we know that the amphorae were won by an athlete buried in
a tomb in Via Genova, in Taranto, whose name is still unknown. What can be deduced from the decorations of the amphorae is that the athlete from Taranto was a winner in the chariot race, boxing, long jump and discus throwing. In short, a true champion.
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