The Birth of the Games

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About the Book

In ancient Greece and across the Mediterranean, kingdoms strive for dominance. The great powers of Carthage and Egypt look on with avarice as the might of the Greeks is spent warring between themselves, oblivious to external dangers. Year in and year out, the people suffer at the hands of their rulers and the famine and pestilence that comes with conflict. The great rulers of the day are themselves helpless to end this cycle of destruction. While life on the battlefield is cheap, the slave trade flourishes through the years of interminable battle and death. Kings and queens pray to the gods and seek wisdom from the oracles, but the gods, it seems, prefer combat to diplomacy.
At Olympia, the peace of the temple precinct is an island of calm in a sea of turmoil. Here on this sacred soil grows the seed of a better future, yet even here there lurks danger and deceit as the forces of destruction reach into the sanctuary of the gods. For this seed to thrive, it will take more than prayers and goodwill.

Yet often hope springs from the most unlikely sources. There is one amongst the Greeks who sees light where others only perceive darkness. One who sees that there is another way to settle conflict – with honor and courage. One who will set aflame a torch that will burn for thousands of years, down through the ages. In an epoch of chaos and strife, a new force for peace is born.

The Untold Story of the Founding of the Olympic Games…

My country has known many periods of great misfortune. One of these is now remembered as the Greek Dark Ages. After the fall of legendary Troy, Greek fought against Greek for hundreds of years. The carving on these stones around us was young then, and the sacred site of Olympia stood firm, but all else was in chaos. We had no central government, no unity, no shared national identity, and my ancestors had lost much — even the art of reading and writing had been forgotten. It was a time of great terror and rivers of blood, a time when few good men stood tall, and even patriots like the great poet Homer wandered blind and alone.”

Greek tour guide / narrator – Prologue

From this part of Greece, from Olympia herself, something extraordinary was born. Although the Greek cities around her were forever in combat - Elis and Pisa to the north, Sparta to the south - one young Greek who lived here chose not to go to war. He stood apart from it all. He stood against the conflict. He defied everyone: his father, the Spartans, even the foreigners who then pulled the strings of Sparta, the Phoenicians, rulers of the Mediterranean from their mighty city of Carthage in North Africa. He defied them, but not with violence. It was his idea of peace that triumphed. The name of this almost forgotten hero was Pelops…

Greek tour guide/narrator – Prologue

Loping along the broken roadway, the relic of a more accomplished age, a youth of nineteen summers kept his breath even and his stride long as he raced towards Olympia, bearing a message for his father, the chief priest, Tantalus. As the sun beat down, leaving him in a sheen of sweat, Pelops sighted what appeared to be a large body of men approaching in the distance - the haze and dust rising from the road made their identity uncertain. With the gap closed, he spotted first the royal banner of Elis flying over a dusty, though regally-attired, figure on horseback in the vanguard, then some distance behind, a great number of foot soldiers, slick with sweat, grime, and what appeared to be the caked gore of a recent battle. ‘Another battle,’ Pelops cursed.

About the authors

John A. Martino is a disabled veteran, honourably discharged from the Australian Defence Force. He wrote his PhD in Classical History through Monash University and The University of Melbourne (with assistance from UNAM in Mexico City and ANU in Canberra) on martial violence in the Old World and the New. He has since sought ‘solutions’ to humanity’s endemic warlike ways; this novel is the culmination of that yearning. He is an avid archer, Alfa Romeo enthusiast, prolific reader, very keen international traveller, animal lover and enjoys getting Socratic – if not, at times, a touch Dionysiac – over a good bottle of red with friends. He has a very supportive peer group and family (of Italian and Greek heritage), to whom he owes much.

The author at Olympia, Greece on March 12, 2020 for the Olympic Torch Lighting and Relay Ceremony. With Atharva Vispute, No. 5 Torchbearer and the US Young Champion Ambassador, awarded this honour through the YCA program operating out of Colorado Springs, Colorado, sister city to Olympia.
Dr. John A. Martino
Dr. Michael O’Kane is an experienced field anthropologist who has worked extensively with Australian Aboriginal communities across Australia. He has also conducted field research with environmentalists in the Republic of Ireland and with farming communities throughout Victoria. Michael is a published academic author and has held lecturing, tutoring and research positions variously at Monash University, Latrobe University, the University of Melbourne and Victoria University.
From childhood, he has been fascinated by the ancient world and the impact of history and culture on today’s reality. After working as a qualified carpenter and joiner, he took the opportunity to further this interest at Monash University. There, along with anthropology and comparative sociology, he took courses in classical history, where he first met his comrade and co-author John Martino. Michael lives with his partner Erin, their two children Felix and Patrick and their curly retriever Molly.
Dr. Michael P. O’Kane

Foreword by Assoc. Prof. Alexis Lyras

Alexis Lyras is the founder and president of the ‘Olympism For Humanity Alliance’ and has held, since August 2012, an academic fellowship at the Conflict Resolution Program, Department of Government at Georgetown University. Lyras currently holds a faculty position at the Tsukuba International Academy for Sport Studies (TIAS), the academic arm of ‘Sport for Tomorrow’, a Tokyo 2020 / ‘21 Games project. He is now working on a global academic innovation initiative for the establishment of a world wide ‘Humanitarian Academic Ecosystem’, which is committed to institutionalizing ‘Olympism for Humanity’ teaching, researching and programming across the planet.

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