The Addicted Athlete: Diagnosing the Individual Athlete with Modern Sports Science

Caitlan Smith

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemera


The athletic body and culture are defining symbols of the ancient Greek world in modern reception from Greek sculpture and, more notably, the Olympic games. But this only demonstrates the façade of the ancient athlete. What can the actual biological body of an athlete tell us about the individual athlete? What struggles, mentally and physically, did the athlete go through to achieve victory? What pressures did competing on the PanHellenic stage create for the individual athlete? This paper takes an innovative approach by applying modern sports science terms directly to ancient text as a way to diagnose the ancient athlete. For example, the main criticisms of ancient athletes were on their overall way of life: their sleepy nature, diet, an excess of health, and strict training regimen. That made athletes, in the opinion of several authors (e.g. Plutarch, Polybius, Diodorus Siculus to name a few) useless for military purposes and prevented athletes from enjoying the pleasures of life. However, the 'excessive' athletic lifestyle was necessary for 'dedicated' athletes. Further, if an ancient athlete is examined through the lenses of modern sports science, there would not be much difference in their regimens for athletic success. Therefore, modern terms can be applied to the ancient body as well – for the human body has not changed in the last 2000 years. This paper examines terms such as exercise dependence, reverse anorexia (the drive to gain more muscle mass), muscle dysmorphia (the disorder where an individual does not believe they are muscular enough), and overtraining syndromes, as a way to better understand the ancient athlete in the world of sports culture.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 24 Apr 2017
EventInterdisciplinary Classics PG Seminar Series - University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Apr 2017 → …


ConferenceInterdisciplinary Classics PG Seminar Series
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period24/04/17 → …


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