What Games Did They Have in Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece was a fascinating civilization that left behind a rich legacy in various fields, including art, philosophy, and sports. When it comes to games, the ancient Greeks had a wide array of activities that entertained both children and adults alike. Let’s explore some of the popular games they played during that time.

Athletics: The Olympic Games

One of the most famous and enduring contributions of ancient Greece to the world is the Olympic Games. These games were held every four years at Olympia, beginning in 776 BCE and continuing for more than a thousand years.

The Olympic Games were not just about competition but also served as a platform for religious and cultural gatherings. Athletes from different city-states would compete in events like running, discus throw, long jump, wrestling, and chariot racing.

Board Games: Petteia

In addition to physical activities, ancient Greeks also enjoyed playing board games. One such game was Petteia, which was similar to modern-day chess or checkers. Played on a square board with black and white pieces, it required strategy and critical thinking skills to capture opponents’ pieces while protecting your own.

Ball Games: Episkyros

Ball games were another popular pastime in ancient Greece. Episkyros was one such game played by two teams on a rectangular field.

The objective was to get the ball over the opponents’ boundary lines while avoiding being tackled or intercepted. It involved physical strength as well as teamwork.

Dice Games: Tali

Dice games have been enjoyed throughout history, and ancient Greeks had their own version called Tali. This game involved throwing four-sided dice made from bone or ivory onto a flat surface with marked areas representing different outcomes. Players would place bets on specific combinations of numbers and earn points accordingly.

Children’s Games: Kottabos

Children in ancient Greece also had their fair share of games. Kottabos was a popular game played by young people during symposia or social gatherings.

It involved flicking wine from a cup to hit a Target, such as a small disc balanced on top of a pole. This required accuracy and concentration.


Ancient Greece was not only known for its remarkable contributions to art, philosophy, and politics but also for its diverse range of games. Whether it was the competitive spirit of the Olympic Games, the strategic thinking in board games like Petteia, or the fun and excitement of ball games like Episkyros, these ancient pastimes provided entertainment and helped foster physical fitness, mental agility, and social bonding.

So next time you’re playing your favorite game, remember that you are partaking in an activity that has roots stretching back thousands of years to the vibrant civilization of ancient Greece.