The Story of the Greeks
Page: 36For one thousand years after that, the name of each victor was carefully written down; and it was only about three centuries after Christ that the Olympic records ceased. Then the games came to an end, to the sorrow of all the Greeks.
Several attempts have since been made to revive these games; but all proved fruitless until the Greek king arranged to renew them in 1896. In that year a great festival was held, not at Olympia, but in the city of Athens.[Pg 81]
Besides some of the old-fashioned Greek games, there were bicycle and hurdle races, shooting matches, and contests in jumping. People from all parts of the world went to see them in as large numbers as they went to Olympia in the olden times.
The victors in the games, who belonged to many different nations, received medals, and wreaths of wild olive and laurel leaves; but the people did not wear crowns of flowers as formerly, nor offer sacrifices to the old gods, for Greece is now a Christian country.
Among the athletes whose statues were to be seen at Olympia was Mi´lo, a man of Cro´ton, one of the Greek colonies in Italy. This man was remarkable for his great strength, and could carry very heavy weights. In order to develop his muscle and become strong, he had trained himself from a boy, and had practiced carrying burdens until he could lift more than any other man of his time.
We are told that he was so earnest in his efforts to become strong, that he daily carried a pet calf, gradually increasing the distance. As the calf grew larger, Milo became stronger, and his muscles became so powerful that he could carry the animal with ease when it became a full-sized ox.
To please his companions and show them what he could do, Milo once carried an ox for several miles, and[Pg 82] then, feeling hungry, killed it with one blow of his fist, cooked it, and ate it all at a single meal. On another occasion, Milo was sitting with several companions in a rather tumble-down house. All at once he noticed that the roof was falling in. He stretched up his great arms, spread out his hands, and held the roof up until all his companions had run out of the house.
Milo's hands were so strong that when he seized a chariot, even with one hand only, four horses could not make it stir until he let it go. Of course, Milo was very proud of his great strength, which, however, proved unlucky for him, and caused his death.
One day when he was very old, Milo wandered out alone into a forest where some woodcutters had been at work. The men had gone away, leaving their wedges in an unusually large tree trunk.
Milo, remembering his former strength, gazed for a moment at the tree, and then, feeling sure that he could easily pull it apart, he slipped his fingers into the crack. At his first effort the tree parted a little, and the wedges fell out; but the two halves, instead of splitting apart, suddenly came together again, and Milo found his hands held fast.