This book examines the relationship between athletics and
philosophy in ancient Greece and Rome focused on the connection
between athleticism and virtue. It begins by observing that the
link between athleticism and virtue is older than sport, reaching
back to the athletic feats of kings and pharaohs in early Egypt and
Mesopotamia. It then traces the role of athletics and the Olympic
Games in transforming the idea of aristocracy as something acquired
by birth to something that can be trained. This idea of training
virtue through the techniques and practice of athletics is examined
in relation to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Then Roman
spectacles such as chariot racing and gladiator games are studied
in light of the philosophy of Lucretius, Seneca, and Marcus
Aurelius. The concluding chapter connects the book's ancient
observations with contemporary issues such as the use of athletes
as role models, the relationship between money and corruption, the
relative worth of participation and spectatorship, and the role of
females in sport. The author argues that there is a strong link
between sport and philosophy in the ancient world, calling them
offspring of common parents: concern about virtue and the spirit of
free enquiry. This book was previously published as a special issue
of the Ethics and Sport.
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