With the Olympic Games coming up, Sarah Scott, an active participant and member of the editorial team in Hour 25, shares this month’s Core Vocab word which is āthlos (aethlos) [ἆθλος/ἄεθλος] ‘contest, ordeal; competition’; and āthlētēs [ἀθλητής], ‘athlete’.
In HeroesX Gregory Nagy introduces the word āthlētēs in a section about the Labors of Hēraklēs and the founding of the Olympic Games:
Hēraklēs not only founded this major festival: he also competed in every athletic event on the prototypical occasion of the first Olympics. On that occasion, he won first prize in every Olympic event. This tradition about Hēraklēs is the perfect illustration of a fundamental connection between the labor of a hero and the competition of an athlete at athletic events like the Olympics. As we can see when we read Hour 8b, the hero’s labor and the athlete’s competition are the “same thing,” from the standpoint of ancient Greek concepts of the hero. The Greek word for the hero’s labor and for the athlete’s competition is the same: āthlos. Our English word athlete is a borrowing from the Greek word āthlētēs , which is derived from āthlos
(Gregory Nagy The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours 1§41)
Continue reading on the Hour 25 website.
Sarah Scott has a degree in Language from the University of York where she specialized in philology, and has worked as an editor, technical author, and documentation manager. She is the Associate Producer for the HeroesX project, and one of the Executive Editors of the HeroesX Sourcebook. She is an active participant and member of the editorial team in Hour 25, with a particular interest in content development, document management, word studies, language learning, comparative linguistics, and digital humanities.