• Hunting: was enjoyed by aristocratic populace (slave bears, horses, dog. Lion hunting; were the preview of royalty; sport of nobility
  • Fishing: was seen as more of a job; Ancient sources mention one fishmonger wining the Olympia
  • Aquatic sports: such as swimming were only used as a way of training for other sports (recreational, not competitive)
  • Acrobatics: popular; used as children’s entertainment; NO evidence of competition
  • Children has their own games/ amusements (I.e juggling, teeter-totters, swings, (one particular game was hoop; played in the streets, and was recommended by doctors as healthy exercise that children could perform by themselves
  • Hoop: made from iron, bronze, or wood with small studs at regular intervals around the edge. Made loud, easily identifiable noise (help parents find children playing with it). Hoop was propelled by a wooden stick or iron rod (elater) and was supposed to stand chest high
  • Another popular toy: Yo-Yo. Believed to be made of wood; no example of it have survived from ancient Greece.
  • Tops: favored toys. No wooden tops survive but terra-cotta and bronze ones do.
  • Most common toys: knuckle-bones and dice
  • Knuckle bones: found in social and educational gathering ; found in graves and sanctuaries
  • Made of tarsal bone/ ankle of sheep or goat; attached to the shinbone and the radius
  • Has 4 sides and two rounded ends; don’t match; each assigned a different value [board sides: pranes= 4, hyption= 3] [shorter sides: chion= 1 koon: 6] each pair of sides has total value of 7.
  • Fancier knucklebones were made of stone, metal and glass; sometimes “loaded” to cheat
  • Momentum at Olympia of marble astragalos
  • Astragaloi were a constant part of palaistra
  • Dice: similar to modern dices; included games of chance like craps and board games; inventer: Palamedes (leader or Troy); more likely invented by the Eyptians
  • Ancient Greeks used balls for recreation and NOT athletics
  • Harpaston “to grab away from”: small, hard, covered with leather Palla: lighter, feather-stuffed ball
  • Episkyros (commonball): two opposing teams of equal men. Set ball in middle and throw ball over the other team and continue until they finally get ball over the backline
  • Aporrhaxis: bounce a ball vigorously and dribble it; count # of bounces
  • Ourania: one player bending backward and throwing the ball into the sky. Other players try to grab it and dribble a ball against the wall, and count number of bounces. Loser: donkey Winner: king…tell donkey and give him orders
  • Ephedrismos (sitting on): setting stone at a distance and trying to hit it with balls or stones; Whoever doesn’t knock it over has to carry the one who did; eye held shut; until he finds the stone
  • Ball game not described in written sources: older male carries younger male and throw pairs of young men. They then all scramble for the balls after it thrown
  • Modern soccer scene seen on a funerary monument (used folis air filled leather covered ball)
  • Other modern games; athletes used curved sticks to move around small disc/ ball using a horn (keras) -> “use the horn”

Ball playing didn’t prepare future citizen in any meaningful way for their responsibilities; arête isn’t displayed on a team, therefore it is not highly regarded or documented in ancient Greek culture

Leave a Reply

14 Comments on "Ancient Greek Recreation & Activities"

newest oldest most voted

This just saved my project 🙂

Sarah C.

thank you very much

George S.

Thank you, I got all the information I needed on recreational activities!

Eddie R.

hi, thank you very much

Iwan T.

Thank you internet for your great help – I wouldn’t survive without this website

Madison W

I know its awesome right!

Eddie N.

thank you

Stefan W.

Thanks 🙂


yep, thanks!


what is a slave bear




Tell me more about some of the greek board games.

Taran D

this saved me thank you


They should add citation help