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Posted on June 14th, 2024 in Ancient Influencers by Elizabeth W. Thill | Tags: , , ,

This episode of Ancient Influencers brought to you by CLAS-C 213 Sport and Competition in the Ancient World – Because modern-day minds and media have nothing on the past.

In the fifth episode of House of the Dragon, King Viserys Targaryen wonders how he will be remembered as king, given that his reign was long, peaceful, and generally unexciting. His Hand, Lord Lyonel Strong, asks in reply “Is it not better to live in peace than to have songs sung after you are dead?” For most ancient elite males, the answer would be a firm, “Hell no! Go home Ser Strong, you’re drunk.” One of the main reasons athletic competitions were such a huge deal for the Ancient Greeks was that winners got money, yes, but also statues and songs. The poet Pindar’s main hustle appears to have been writing songs to celebrate athletic victors. Why all the fuss over musical commemoration? For a people that generally believed the afterlife was a terrible place for everyone involved, the only possible way to glory was to have your reputation live after you’re gone (for more depressing news on ancient death, check out CLAS-B 312 Plague, Disasters and Death in the Ancient World). And what better way to have people remember you, than to get them bopping along to your ballad at feasts? Battle was great for getting glory too, of course, but war was difficult to predict, and often involved lots of slashing and dying. Staged athletic competitions every four years was a much better system. If he wants a song, King Viserys better up his wrestling game.

Want to know more? Enroll in CLAS-C 213 (36524) for Fall 2024 and Learn What You Love.

      • GEC Cultural Understanding
      • offered online asynchronous
      • Prof. Melissa Trahyn

    Fun Facts:

    • no pre-requisites
    • 3 credits