Whether steeped in Greek mythology, fable, fiction or allegorical, Ekecheiria, or The Olympic Truce captures the imagination. What we do know is that Greece was in a long and bloody civil war and, based on stories passed down through the years, the kings of three city-states, Elis, Pisa and Sparta, traveled to Delphi, hoping the Oracle could use her mysterious power to find a way to hold the athletic games in Olympia without further bloodshed. The oracle was the sanctuary dedicated to Apollo and the spokesperson for Apollo was the priestess called the Pythia.
Legend says that the Pythia would fall into a trance allowing Apollo to possess her spirit. From this state she prophesied about everything from public policy to personal matters. One of the prophesies was that of The Olympic Truce: every four years the games would be held, war would be suspended, armies would be prohibited from threatening those participating in or attending the Games, legal issues and the death penalty were forbidden.
This was the common basis for peace and harmony among the Greeks and the forerunner to the modern Olympic Games. Athletes, artists and their families, as well as ordinary citizens would be allowed to travel safely both before, during and after the games. The sanctuary of Olympia remained a tradition for centuries.
Fast-forward to 1984 when the Hands In Peace organization, inspired by the spirit of Ekecheiria, and using a modern model of the Pentathlon developed for children by the Spacial Dynamics Institute®, began the first of their many Hands In Peace Games. Aimed at building peace through cooperation and open dialogue these non-competitive athletic events coupled with artistic activities bring children together to work harmoniously in teams to do their personal best. Shared artistic activities encourage the children to learn about different cultures and to express themselves in a safe environment and develop relationships with those once considered “different.”
Pep’s Note – there are as many versions of the Oracle at Delphi, The Truce and the Olympics as there are stars in the sky. I hope you like this simple version.