Ancient Olympics: The Use of Enhancements in Olympic Athletes


Kirsten Dunia
Mentor: Dr. John Vonder Bruegge
Honors Program

This project is designed to examine the process that the Greeks explored to establish enhancements in their athletic competitions. Ancient Greece believed that enhancements were beneficial to Olympic athletes and helped them achieve their true goal in the Olympic Games. In ancient Greek society, the goal of athletics was to achieve thumos, which loosely translates to "spirited" or "having the guts to do it." Thus, by means of aretē - a sense of striving towards excellence - and a sense of perfection, athletes pursued the goal of competition to find thumos.In the end, the ancient Greeks saw enhancements as merely a tool.The strange foods and dietary combinations started small and grew into an essential aspect of competition. However, the debate over enhancements did not stop there. Research for this project has involved looking more into the regulations of the Olympics, which shows that the Olympic council accepted enhancements but banned the acceptance of bribes. In the council's mind, these enhancements assisted athletes on the path to thumos, whereas bribes devalued true competition.