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Grade 10 English Unit 10 Games and Sports || Reading I The First Olympic Game || Unit 10 Reading I Exercise



The First Olympic Games


In ancient Greece, there lived a man called Tantalus. He was half man and half god. His father was the great Greek god Zeus. One day Zeus invited him up to Mount Olympus, high above the clouds for dinner. When Tantalus received the invitation, he was very proud. "Dinner with the gods!" he thought. "What a grand honour!" said Tantalus and climbed up to the very top of Mount Olympus in his embroidered robes to dine with his father and the other gods. They had an exquisite dinner together. The next morning Tantalus lay in bed remembering the glorious evening. "I must return the invitation." "But what can I serve them? I must give them something I value more than anything." And then Tantalus had a terrible idea, a horrible one. He decided to take his son, Pelops, and chop him up and serve him as a stew to the gods. The gods, who saw everything, were furious. "How could he do such a thing?" they asked. "He knows we hate human sacrifice. We will have to punish him." As a punishment they sent him down to the underworld, where he had to stand in water up to his neck forever.


Meanwhile, the gods brought Pelops back to life. As a special present they gave him a chariot with a team of snow-white horses that could run faster than the wind. "Take these horses," said Zeus to Pelops, "and find yourself a kingdom, for you shall become a great ruler." Pelops thanked the gods and mounted his chariot and galloped down the dusty mountain road and out onto the plain. As he came around a curve, he reined in his horses, for he saw an old man dressed in rags by the side of the road. "Where are you going?" shouted the old man. "I'm off to find a kingdom," Pelops replied. "Then I have an idea for you," said the old man. "I know of a kingdom called Elis, where a beautiful princess lives. Her name is Hippodamia. The man who marries the princess will inherit her father's kingdom." "That sounds perfect," said Pelops. "There's just one problem," cautioned the old man. "If you want to marry the princess, you have to run a chariot race against the old king. If you win, you get the princess and the kingdom. If you lose, you get your head chopped off. So far, twelve people have lost." "I won't lose," said Pelops. "My horses can run faster than the wind." "But the king's can run faster than lightning," warned the old man. "I am not afraid," said Pelops. He thanked the old man and started off.


After many hours he reached the palace and wished to see the king. The servants led him to the king's chamber. There, he saw the beautiful princess. Hippodamia sitting next to the king. Her black eyes sparkled like stars when she saw the handsome young visitor. Pelops bowed low before the king. "I have come to woo your daughter," he said. "My daughter and my kingdom are yours," the king said, "if you win the chariot race." "My horses can run faster than the wind," said Pelops. "Mine can run faster than lightning." countered the king. He had never lost a race. His horses were magic, and had been given to him by Ares, the god of war. "Tomorrow morning at sunrise," the king declared, "the race shall begin." Later that evening, the princess wandered out near the king's stables. She did not see the stable boy, who was brushing the horses' shiny black coats so they would look their best for the race in the morning. Hippodamia looked up at the starlit sky and said to herself, dreamily, "Oh, I do wish my father would lose the race, just this once." Now the stable boy, who had always adored the princess from afar, overheard Hippodamia. "I can make her wish come true." he thought. After the princess went inside, he carefully took out the bronze pins that held the great wooden wheels on the chariot and replaced them with pins made of candle wax. Early next morning, the royal musicians blew their horns. Crowds of people gathered on the lush green fields of Olympia. The king stood in his chariot, his helmet gleaming in the sun. He was hardly able to hold back his snorting horses. Pelops stood in his chariot. His horses pawed the ground. The signal was given, and they were off. "On, my fiery steeds," shouted the king. "Faster!" shouted Pelops. The crowd cheered. The horses galloped neck and neck, faster than wind, faster than lightning. Now, thought the king, "I will pull ahead and win!" He whipped his horses harder, but instead of speeding up, they fell behind. Something was wrong! The wax pins had melted in the heat. Suddenly the wheels flew off, and the king was thrown to his death. Of course, Pelops had won the race, so he would marry Hippodamia and rule the kingdom. But Pelops and Hippodamia were very sad that the old king had died. He had not really been a mean king, you see. It's just that he had loved his daughter so much he didn't want to give her away in marriage. So, before their wedding, Pelops and Hippodamia decided to have a great funeral feast in honor of the king. They invited heroes from all over Greece to take part in athletic games and races, in memory of the king's great chariot race. Pelops decreed that such games should be held every four years, till the end of time. And since the games took place on the fields of Olympia, they have been known ever since as the Olympic Games.


Grade 10 English Unit 10 Games and Sports || Reading I The First Olympic Game || Unit 10 Reading I ExercisePelops and his lovely Hippodamia went on to become wise and good rulers of the great kingdom of Elis. True to Pelops's decree, the games were held every four years on the fields of Olympia. But around 500 A.D. there was a great earthquake that knocked down the buildings and a huge flood that covered the fields with water and mud. They remained buried for almost 1,500 years. People forgot about the Olympic Games. Because no one could see the Olympic fields, many people believed the fields and the games had never even existed! Imagine their surprise when, in 1875, archaeologists dug into the earth at just the right place and discovered the ancient fields of Olympia, where the games had taken place so long ago. There was great rejoicing around the world and, with the help of a Frenchman named Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the Olympic Games were started once again. And, today the Olympic Games continue. Every four years athletes from all over the world come together to compete in a spirit of peace and friendship. The games are held in different countries, and an Olympic flame is always kept burning in the stadium until the games have ended. This flame is lit from the rays of the sun on the Olympic fields in Greece.


(Adapted from: The First Olympic Games: A Gruesome Greek Myth With a Happy Ending by Richards, Jean and Thacker, Kat)



Countered = act in opposition to

Dreamily = delightfully

Galloped = paced fastest

Archaeologists = persons who study human history and prehistory through the excavation of the sites and analyse the artefacts

Rejoicing = jubilant/great joy


A. Complete the sentences with the words given below.

exquisite        inherited        underworld   embroidered         stew


decreed          mounted       rejoicing         furious                   lush


a.   We are having .............for lunch today.


b.   The demon was sent to the ……………...........for his disobedience to the gods.


c.   The sleeves of his coat gold.

d.   Smita was absolutely ....................... at having been cheated.




e.   Her wedding dress was absolutely ……………..


f.    The prince …………………. the kingship after his father's death.


g.   There was a great ……………………….. when the Nepali Football Team won SAFF U-19 championship.


h.   The king ..................... his horse and rode away from the palace.


I.    The government.............................that the following day would be a holiday on the occasion of Eid.

J.    It was wonderful to spend a week in the………........... green countryside.


B.   Write if the following statements are true, false or not given based on the information given in the text.

a.   Tantalus' father Zeus was also half god and half man. - FALSE

b.   Tantalus wanted to take revenge with the gods. - NOT GIVEN

c.   The gods revived Pelops to rule in Elis. - TRUE

d.   Princess Hippodamia was impressed with Pelops at the first sight. - TRUE

e.   Hippodamia wanted to kill the king so that she could inherit the kingdom. - FALSE

f.    The Olympic Games were not held for about 1,500 years due to the fear of the earthquake. - TRUE

g.   In every Olympic Games the torch is carried from Greece.



C. Answer these questions.

a.   Who was Tantalus?

Ans:- Tantalus was the son of the Greek god Zeus in ancient Greece and he was half man and half god.


b.   Why were the gods angry with him?

Ans:- The gods were angry with Tantalus because he decided to serve his son, Pelops, as a stew to them, an act of human sacrifice.


c.   What punishment did gods give Tantalus?

Ans:- The gods punished Tantalus by sending him down to the underworld, where he had to stand in water up to his neck forever.


d.   What special qualities did the horses of the king and Pelops have?

Ans:-  The king's horses, given by Ares, the god of war, could run faster than lightning. And Pelops was gifted a chariot with horses by the god Zeus, that could run faster than the wind.


e.   What was the risk of proposing to Princess Hippodamia?

Ans:-  The risk of proposing to Princess Hippodamia was that to marry her, Pelops had to compete in a chariot race against the king (her father). If he lost the race, he would face the consequence of chopping off his head.


f.    How did the stable boy help Pelops win the race?

Ans:-  The stable boy overheard Hippodamia expressing a wish for her father to lose the race. To fulfil her wish, the stable boy replaced the bronze pins in the king's chariot wheels with ones made of candle wax. During the race, these wax pins melted, causing the king to lose control and die.


g.   How did the king die?

Ans:-  The king died during the chariot race when the wax pins in his chariot wheels melted, causing the wheels to come off and him to be thrown to his death.


h.   Why did Pelops and Hippodamia organize a feast?

Ans:-  Pelops and Hippodamia organized a feast to honor the memory of the old king who had died in the chariot race. The feast was a funeral feast in which they invited heroes from all over Greece to participate in athletic games and races in memory of the king's great chariot race.


i.    How did the events of the feast become the origin of modern Olympic Games?

Ans:-  Pelops decreed that athletic games should be held every four years in memory of the old king. This decree marked the origin of the ancient Olympic Games, which eventually evolved into the modern Olympic Games.


j.    How is the Olympic torch lit?

Ans:-  The Olympic torch is lit from the rays of the sun on the Olympic fields in Greece. It is then carried to the hosting country for the Olympic Games, symbolizing the continuity of the ancient tradition.


D. What is the significance of the Olympic Games in the world today? Discuss.

Ans:-  The Olympic Games are the most important games in the world today. These events bring people from all over the world together to play sports and compete, no matter where they're from. This helps us understand and respect each other's cultures. Moreover, the games also encourage everyone to get active and stay healthy. Athletes at the Olympics show us what hard work and dedication can achieve, inspiring people everywhere to do their best. When a city hosts the Olympics, it can boost their economy by bringing in tourists and creating jobs. The games are on TV a lot, making them really popular and turning athletes into heroes. The Olympics are not just about sports; they're about values like respect and friendship. They even provide a chance for countries to talk and work together. So, the Olympic Games are a big deal, promoting unity, health, and positive values all around the world.

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