Are Olive or Laurel branches the Olympic victory symbol? For the Athens 2004 games olive wreaths are crowning the winning athletes. Here's an excerpt from the AP:
"Bringing back a symbol of the ancient Olympics, medal winners at the Summer Games in Athens will be crowned with an olive wreath.
Ilias Antonellos, the vice president of the company donating the wreathes, said Thursday it is the first time in the modern Olympics that medalists will be crowned.
Antonellos said each medalist will receive a wreath and floral bouquet during the Games, which start Friday and run until August 29. Medalists in the Paralympic competition for physically challenged athletes will also be awarded wreaths. Organizers have ordered 2,563 olive wreaths and bouquets for the Olympics and 2,960 for the Paralympics that follow."
But what about the winner getting the "laurels?" And being a "laureate?" The laurel wreath as victory symbol originates in Greek mythology. It has to do with Apollo slaying a monster and starting a cycle of four annual contests (pan-hellenic athletic games cycle) that honored his accomplishment. These included the first Olympic games. Later, Apollo insulted Eros, the Greek god of love. Eros shot him with a magic arrow that caused Apollo to fall in hopeless love with a mortal woman named Daphne. She was hit with another Eros arrow which rendered her incapable of loving Apollo. Nevertheless he pursued her, and out of desperation Daphne escaped by having herself turned into a Laurel. Ever after, winners of the games to honor Apollo wore wreaths of laurel in honor of Apollo's Daphne.
Click here for more about the Greek Laurel.
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