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Olympic Dialogue Café explores Ancient Greek themes

Ancient Greece. It was the birthplace of democracy and the birthplace of the first Olympic Games.

The two would seem to go hand in hand.

But new research shows that the Olympics, to the Ancient Greeks at least, were fierce competitions among bitter rivals – hardly the stuff of a true democratic society. Or is it?

The next Dialogue Café will explore these two seemingly opposing concepts and what they meant to the Ancient Greeks.

On one hand the ideals of democracy were to promote the common good, fulfilling these notions of citizenship and community. On the other hand the Olympics were about the search for the ultimate Greek hero, a celebration of the greatness of the individual. Indeed, there were no team sports in the Ancient Greek Olympics.

There was a strong individualistic competitive ethic that thrived not just among athletes, but with soldiers, military people, philosophers, playwrights and anyone of any note in Ancient Greece.

This so called "agon" mentality however may lie at the root of a strong democracy.

"I think there is some real connection between the two," said William Roberts, executive director of the Whistler Forum and facilitator of the Dialogue Cafés in Whistler.

"Even in our own day and age when we spend millions and millions of dollars for elite super athletes and the corporatization of sport and even the Olympics, how that can connect with what the community benefit is of all of that?"

The Olympic Dialogue Café will take place at Zeuski’s Restaurant on Monday, Aug. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend and add their two cents to the conversation.