25th June 2004 at 01:00
The film Troy and the return of the Olympic Games to Greece could renew the appeal of The Iliad and The Odyssey - they're both gripping yarns, and really quite accessible. Begin by looking at the account of Patroclus'

funeral games (The Iliad, Book 23, second half) - www.mala.bc.cajohnstoihomeriliad23.htm It is surprising how many of the events survive - those games included chariot racing, boxing, wrestling, foot-racing, fencing (of a sort), shot-putting, archery and the javelin.

They all reflected necessary military skills and, given that they were contested between representatives of competitive Greek-speaking states, probably embodied serious rivalries. Pupils could research the history of the Olympics in more detail at http:ancienthistory.about.comlibraryweeklyaa070400a.htm, then devise and justify a new sporting event - something that reflects our world's needs and abilities more effectively than, say, synchronised swimming.

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