The Nemean Games 2012 are about to commence in Nemea, some 23km from Corinth, northeastern Peloponnese, and participants aged between 8 and 82 years old are ready to take part in a traditional events dating back to antiquity.
The celebration will begin with the opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 22. These will be highlighted by the lighting of the flame at the Altar of Nemean Zeus and the crowning of Nemea by Ekecheiria (Sacred Truce). As in Ancient Greece, the Sacred Truce both protected and symbolized the spirit of peaceful competitions.
Saturday, June 23 will be a full day of footraces for all who have registered to run no later than May 15. There will be “stadion” races of 100m on the ancient track, and a 7.5km “Footsteps of Herakles” race from the ancient temple of Herakles at Kleonai back to the Nemea stadium. At the end of the day all the winners will be crowned with the traditional wild celery, followed by a buffet at the local school hosted by the Cultural Society of Ancient Nemea.
On the final day, Sunday, June 24 at 7:30 p.m. there will be presented in the ancient stadium the “Nemeada,” a poetically framed story of the ancient mythology and history of Nemea and the Nemean Games written by George Kostouros, the vice-president of the Society. This piece was first presented at the Fourth Nemead in 2008 and proved to be very popular with the local people.
The festival will take place in the ancient stadium (constructed about 330 B.C.) at the eastern edge of the modern village of Ancient Nemea. Participants will run barefoot and wear white tunics (the ancient chiton – in place of ancient nudity) in the first locker-room known in the history of mankind. They will proceed through the ancient tunnel, being careful not to damage the graffiti scratched on its walls by athletes some 2,300 years ago – and not to add their own graffiti to the ancient monument. At the far end of the tunnel, each participant will wait for her or his name to be announced by the herald, and then will run out onto the track.
The Nemean Games are organized by the Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games, a movement born from nearly 40 years of excavation by the University of California at Berkeley in the Pan-hellenic Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea, Greece, and from the enthusiasm and dedication of local residents of Nemea who feel that they could make an important contribution to today’s world through their personal ties to Nemea.
The event is also organized under the aegis of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Prefecture of Peloponnese and the Hellenic National Committee for UNESCO.
(With info from nemeangames.org)