The Beginnings of Art & Wrestling

Lascaux Cave Art

Art pre-dates what is commonly called “civilization”. The Lascaux cave paintings are about 18,000 years old, whereas civilization is thought to be only about 5,000 years old. Some historians think that art was originally part of “magical“ rituals. Others think that art was created for the purpose of capturing the spirits of animals.

Lascaux Cave Art - Bull and horse

Lascaux Cave Art – Bull and horse (approximately 15,000 BC)

Others think that humans are “hard wired” to produce art. The pieces in Lascaux were created by Cro Magnon (Homo Sapien Sapien), who replaced Neanderthal man in western Europe about 30,000 – 35,0000 years ago. However, it is thought that a few Neanderthals still exist on some wrestling teams in B.C. (actually, most of us have a minor amount of Neanderthal DNA in our genetic codes).

Greek Vase

Our favourite sport was part of the original Olympic Games in 776 B.C. There were no weight classes then, so the big guys had the advantage. In Homer’s Illiad (the story about the Trojan war) there were wrestling matches at the funeral games for both Patroclus and Achilles. The Trojan War was a real event that took place some time around 1250 B.C.

Wrestlers on Greek Vase 5th century BC

Wrestlers on Greek Vase 5th century BC

Patroclus, who was the best friend of Achilles (the Greek hero), borrowed the armour of Achilles and slaughtered many Trojans. Achilles himself refused to fight due to a huff over a woman. Hector, the son of the Trojan king Priam, killed Patroclus after Apollo blurred the vision of Patroclus and knocked his helmet off. In a fit of anger and revenge Achilles re-joined the war. He killed Hector and dragged Hector’s body behind his chariot around Troy and then back to the Greek ships. Apollo eventually killed Achilles with a poisoned arrow to the heel. Some versions of the myth have Paris shooting the arrow. Paris was the lover of Helen of Troy (the most beautiful woman in the world), and he started the war by stealing Helen from the Greek king Menaleus. We all know who eventually won the Trojan war.

But back to Patroclus. After killing Hector, Achilles insisted on stopping the war to hold a proper funeral for Patroclus. It was customary to have games at such a funerals. Wrestling was naturally included. The final match was between Odysseus and Ajax, and they battled to a tie.   Nowadays we have ties when we go to formal functions, and the educated wrestler may forge ties of friendship that last a lifetime, we but we don’t have ties in our wrestling matches. In many cases the person who scores the last point will win, so you should always be prepared to go as hard as you can near the end of a bout, even to the last few seconds.

See the image on the vase.  It appears that the wrestler on the right does not have a proper stance.  To see comments and video on stance click here.

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