Searching for cultural, historical, ethical and philosophical roots of sport in archaic and classical Greek philosophy
Peter Sagat – Marian Ambrozy
Already the Homeric period meant a high social status for successful athletes. However, it was exclusive; it excluded those whose time was needed to work for a living. Democratization in Athens and the militarization of sport in other fields had brought the spread of sport to the wider classes. Xenophanes became the first critic of the sport as a philosopher. Sophists, in turn, emphasized the importance of educational training for life, including sports education. Although the character of the historical Socrates is problematic, it is generally believed that Socrates left behind the legend of a physically immensely disposed, resilient man. Plato consolidated the role of sport through his role in social philosophy. Specifically, he spoke of the importance of the virtue ἀνδρεία. Although Aristotle characterizes kalokagathia and defined the role of sport within virtues, he was critical in its evaluation. He refused to practice sports if it led to a deterioration of the body. Partly archaic, especially classical Greek philosophy provided a theoretical rationale for recognizing sport as a meaningful activity, but also its critique.
Key words: ancient sport, poleis, sports games, Plato, Aristotle