Awards Ceremony

"As when a man takes up in his wealthy hand
a drinking cup brimming with the dew of the vine
and gives it to his new son-in-law
toasting his move from one home to another
to the joy of his drinking companions...
just so do I send my liquid nectar, gift of the Muses,
sweet fruit of my talent, to the prize winners,
and please the winners at Olympia and Pytho."

Pindar, Olympian Ode 7.1-16, 80-93. 464 BC

As they entered the temple, the victors wore a red woolen band around the head and held a palm-branch in their right hand. The wool band was usually used to adorn sacred objects, and the palm-branch was reminiscent of Theseus, who issued the games in Delos. The victors of these games were crowned also with a palm-branch.

Within the temple, there were crowns of wild olive leaves (kotinos), placed on a gold and ivory table. The bronze tripod on which the crowns had been in earlier times, was now kept in the temple. The victors were crowned with the precious prize. It was believed that the crown transferred powers to the athlete. The victor became the favorite of the gods, because he has won with the gods' help. This rite symbolized the mystic communion between the deity and the man.

According to the tradition, it was Iphitos who first established the crown of wild olive as the prize, thus, obeying to an oracle from Delphi. The olive branch was always cut from the same ancient wild olive tree, the Kallistephanos , grown near the temple of Zeus. Victors in other games were praised in a similar way: a wreath of laurel for the victors of the Pythian Games at Delphi, a wreath of pine for the victors of the Isthmian Games, and a wreath of celery for the victors of the Nemean Games.