What Were Some Games Played in Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece was a civilization known for its rich culture, art, and athletic prowess. In addition to their renowned Olympics, the ancient Greeks also enjoyed a variety of games and sports. Let’s take a closer look at some of the popular games played during that time.

The Olympic Games

The Olympic Games held in Olympia were the most prestigious sporting event in ancient Greece. These games were held every four years and attracted athletes from various city-states. The events included running races, long jump, discus throw, javelin throw, wrestling, and chariot racing.


Pankration was a combat sport that combined elements of boxing and wrestling. Participants in this brutal sport fought without any protective gear or rules.

The goal was to incapacitate the opponent by using punches, kicks, joint locks, and chokeholds. Pankration was one of the most physically demanding sports in ancient Greece.


Episkyros was a team sport played between two teams with an equal number of players. The objective was to get the ball over the opponent’s boundary lines by any means necessary.

Players used their hands or any other body part except their arms to pass or kick the ball. Episkyros is considered to be one of the earliest forms of football.


The pentathlon was a combination of five different events: discus throw, javelin throw, long jump, running race (stadium), and wrestling. This challenging competition tested an athlete’s overall athletic ability and skill in various disciplines.


Kottabos was not exactly a physical sport but rather a popular drinking game played during symposiums (social gatherings). Participants would fling wine dregs from their cups towards Targets while trying to hit them accurately. It required precision and skill to succeed in this game.

Chariot Racing

Chariot racing was a thrilling sport in ancient Greece. It involved racing chariots, usually pulled by four horses, around a track called the hippodrome.

The charioteers had to navigate sharp turns and maintain control over their horses. This sport was not for the faint-hearted, as crashes and collisions were common.


Ancient Greek games were not only about physical competition but also served as a way to showcase strength, skill, and honor. From the prestigious Olympic Games to the intense combat of Pankration, these games provided entertainment and excitement for both participants and spectators alike.

So next time you watch or participate in a sporting event, remember that you are continuing a tradition that dates back thousands of years to the games of ancient Greece.

  • The Olympic Games: The most prestigious sporting event.
  • Pankration: A brutal combat sport combining boxing and wrestling.
  • Episkyros: An early team sport resembling football.
  • Pentathlon: A combination of five different events.
  • Kottabos: A drinking game requiring precision.
  • Chariot Racing: Thrilling races with chariots pulled by horses.

Remember these games as you enjoy modern sports and appreciate the rich history behind them!