Mark Golden (m.golden@uwinnipeg.ca ) was born in Winnipeg, raised in Ottawa, and educated (all three degrees) at the University of Toronto. Since 1982 he has been teaching at the University of Winnipeg. He is the author of a number of books on ancient sports, including: Sport and Society in Ancient Greece (Cambridge, 1998)  and Sport in the Ancient World from A to Z (Routledge 2003). He is hoping to finish Greek Sport and Social Status by the fall of 2006 and is planning a revised edition of Sport and Society in Ancient Greece.  

Prof. Golden has also published a number of books on Greek private life, including Children and Childhood in Classical Athens (Johns Hopkins, 1990). With Peter Toohey he is the editor of Sex and Difference in Ancient Greece and Rome (Columbia, 2003) and of Inventing Ancient Culture (Routledge,1997).

He has a teenage son, Max, who plays volleyball and lacrosse and does various thrilling things on his bicycle. He's the athlete in the family.

Prof. Golden has thought a lot about ancient Greek athletics. He thinks that we take part in competitive games as a leisuretime activity much more regularly than the Greeks did. He suggests that they exercised and occasionally would exercise in the form of something which would otherwise take place in a competitive context, as we know from the accounts of Homerís heroes in the Iliad and the Odyssey, exercising by tossing the discus back and forth, and by wrestling as a form of exercise.

But he does not think that the Greeks were quite as likely to go out at midnight and rent a hockey rink, as Canadians are. They would exercise and then when they were involved in the actual formal games, they would usually do so in a competitive context.

For us, he says, the actual games are our leisuretime activity whereas for the Greeks itís the component of the games, the exercises which might be important in the games which was their leisuretime activities.

Aristotle thought that a leisure activity had to be pleasurable in itself and should also include some kind of mental component. In that sense you could certainly say that Greek exercise was a leisuretime activity, it was pleasurable in itself, it made the body feel good, it took place in pleasant environments, it involved social intercourse and communication with people who one would want to see more of, and might have the opportunity to see more of in other circumstances.

And it certainly involved a mental component in that endurance was involved, one had to learn techniques, one had to develop new skills, and so on. But for the Greeks sport involved an entirely different world. For the Greeks, sport had one goal and one goal only, and that was victory.