In Ancient Greece, the word agon means struggle, contest, or fight.

The Ancient Greeks would use the word agon during many different events and times.

For example, Ancient Greeks might have used the word agon when talking about a contest during a sporting event, horse racing, and in literature or music during a public festival.

No matter what the Ancient Greeks were doing, they would often view everything they did or saw as an agon.

They believed this because the Ancient Greeks believed everything had two sides, therefore, each side was always in competition with the other side.

The Ancient Greeks would even view a play as an agon. For example, an actor in a play has to memorize his lines.

This means that one side is the actor and the other side is memorizing the lines.

Memorizing lines can be hard for any actor, which means that the actor was in a struggle with the play while he was memorizing his lines.

In the theatre, Ancient Greeks had comedies which are now called Old Comedy.

This type of comedy was popular during the Fifth Century B.C. The Ancient Greeks would view the debate between two characters in the comedy as an agon.

For example, a contest or an agon could build between one of the characters and a choir or between two characters in the comedy.

In sports or athletics, Ancient Greeks held the Olympic Games. These Olympic Games are an example of an agon.

At first, these games were held in honor of Zeus. Similar to the Olympic Games which we hold today, the Ancient Greeks had running, wrestling, and long jump.

The winner of these games would receive an Olive wreath, which was placed on top of their head, like a crown.

Facts about agon:

  • Ancient Greeks liked to read and they felt literature was very important. They also knew that there was agon in literature. An agon would happen in literature when two characters in the book were faced with a problem. Some of their biggest authors were Homer, Euripides, and Sophocles.
  • The word agon comes from the word agony. Agony means to suffer.
  • The Ancient Greeks had more games like the Olympic Games. The other games were Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian Games.
  • Sometimes Ancient Greeks would view a gathering as an agon. A gathering would be like a festival.
  • Ancient Greeks would often have chariot races. These races were very dangerous but also very popular events.
  • An agon did not have to be a physical fight. It would be a mental or emotional fight within a person. An example of this would be if a person is deciding whether he would be a part of a chariot race.
  • Agon could also be a verbal disagreement between two people. An example of this would have been two people discussing who is a better cook.
  • While agon is not a word that is used very often, it can still be used in many sports events and in movies today.

Question and Answer

1.) What does the word agon mean?

a.) a struggle, contest, or fight

b.) running away from home

c.) the place Zeus lived

Answer: A

2.) Ancient Greeks would not view what as an agon?

a.) athletics

b) literature

c.) water

Answer: C

3.) What is the name for Ancient Greek comedy?

a.) Zeus’ movie

b.) Old Comedy

c.) New Comedy

Answer: B

4.) The Olympic Games in Ancient Greece were held in honor of who?

a.) Homer

b.) Zeus

c.) Pluto

Answer: B

5.) The word agon comes from what word?

a.) agony

b.) against

c.) competition

Answer: A