April 3rd, 1896
Distribution of prizes.
This imposing ceremony, which recalled to us by its splendour the glorious
days of ancient times has left in the minds of all those,who assisted in
it, the most lively, the most lasting impressions. The gods, who presided
over the weather were at last smiling on us ; the sun shone with brightness,
and if there were some clouds hovering in the sky, they merely afforded
an agreable shelter from the burning rays of the sun.
Of course the Stadion was invaded by a crowd already in the early morning.
By ten o'clock it was as well filled with spectators as on the day of the
Marathon Race and presented pretty much the same animated aspect.
At half past ten arrived the Royal Family, all its members were present,
with the exception of the Queen, who unfortunately was still confined to
her chamber. The King and his children were, as usual, received with full
honours, and took their seats bowing acknowledgments. Mehemet All Pasha,
an Egyptian Prince, brother of the Khedive, who had arrived the evening
before at Athens was also present. After the entrance of the Royal Family,
free access was given to the people outside the Stadion, and whoever could
find either a seat, or merely standing room, was allowed to enter. So many
persons availed themselves of this permission that the Stadion must have
contained on this clay more than seventy thousand people.
As soon as the King had taken his seat Mr Robertson, from Oxford University
advanced towards him, and read an ode which he had composed for the occasion
to celebrate the glory of the Olympic Games. In this ode written in Ancient
Greek in Pindarian meter, the poet gave vent to the most noble sentiments,
which only an ardent love and knowledge of Ancient Greece could have inspired
The King lent a most attentive ear to the recital of those beautiful
verses, and the audience cheered heartily when the poet had finished speaking.
After having warmly congratulated Mr Robertson the King stepped on a
sort of platform, erected before the Royal seats, and richly decorated
with carpets and flags. On a small table were placed the olivebranches,
to remind one of the ancient Altis, some laurel branches and the different
diplomas, written on blue or white paper and folded up in long rolls. The
medals, struck in silver for the first, and in bronze for the second prizes,
were real masterpieces of workmanship ; the model being engraved by the
celebrated artist Chaplain.
On the table lay also the presents for the winners, amongst them
were a rich silver cup, given by Mr Breal and an antique vase presented
by Mr Lambros, both destined for the winner in the Marathon Race.
Mr John Lambros had on this occasion addressed the following letter
to the Crownprince.
Your Royal Highness,
The distinction, which the Marathon Race is called upon to give
to the Olympic Games, joined to the ancient reminiscences, which this difficult
race is sure to awake, have suggested to me the idea of offering as a most
appropriate prize to the winner, who will be worthy of so much glory, an
ancient vase, which I have in my collection; on it are represented a dolichodrome
under the guidance of Hellanodices.
May I hope that Your Royal Highness will allow me to add this prize
to the silver cup,which Professor Breal has given. Antiquity seems in this
way to contribute to celebrate the victory of the winner of the Marathon
Behind the King stood the Crownprince and the members of the Council
of Twelve and the General Secretary Mr Philemon. In front of the stand
were drawn up in one line the Olympionic winners, wearing simple morning
attire, conspicuous amongst them stood Louis, his slender figure dressed
in a fustanella of spotless white. When he entered the Stadion, he had
received a warm reception from all sides. Captain Hadjipetros R. A. who
had undertaken the office of a herald for the occasion called with a loud
voice the names of the winners. He mentioned at the same time the country
of each and the contest in which he had distinguished himself.
After each call the winner mounted the stand and bowing before the King,
who had a few kind words to say to everyone, received the diploma, the
prizemedal and the olive branch. The King shook hands with each winner,
who after a respectful bow retired to make room for the next champion.
Each competitor receibed of course an ovation from the assembled crowd.
When the herald called out the name of Louis, and when the victor in
the Marathon Race ascended the platform, the Stadion resounded with cheers
which seemed to take no end. Pigeons adorned, with ribbons of the national
colours of Greece, were let flying accross the Stadion; national flags
and handkerchiefs were agitated in the air ; nobody can even attempt to
describe the joy, the enthusiasm of the Greek people ; the foreign guests
were not a little astonished by it. But the Hungarian, American and German
prizewinners were not forgotten, they all received their full share of
enthusiastic acclamations and cheers.
After this followed the distribution of the second prizes.
The King presented each winner with a bronze medal and a laurel branch.
Some winners of first prizes in special contests received also some presents:
Louis, a silver cup, given by Mr. Breal and an ancient vase presented by
Mr J. Lambros ; Mr Gravelotte, a beautiful silver cup, given by the Athenian
Club ; Mr Karassevdhas a gun, and Mr Phrangoudhis a pistol.
The King presented also Mr Robertson with a laurel branch. The ceremony
of the distribution of the prizes being over, Mr Gebhardt, representative
at the Olympic Games in Athens for Germany, presented to the Crownprince
a laurelwreath, tied with ribbons of the national colours of Germany and
Greece. In offering the crown, Mr Gebhardt pronounced a warmly felt allocution
which the Crownprince answered in German with a few appropriate words of
thanks. After this came the procession of the champions, as it was the
usual costum in ancient times. Headed by Mr. C. Manos, the director of
the games, the winners of the first and second prizes carrying their olive
or laurelbranches marched slowly round the course to the sound of a triumphal
march. Louis walked in the first line, he seemed very proud and very much
touched with so many tokens of honour showered on him. He waved incessantly
a small Greek flag as if he wanted to express by doing this, his thanks
and acknowledgments. When the «cortege» had made the whole
circuit of the track and arrived again in front of the Royal seats, the
King rose again and said in a loud and audible voice : «I announce
hereby the closure of the First Olympiade.» The people answered by
calling out : «Long live the Kings and everybody left theStadion.
Soon afterwards quite spontaneously a large demonstration was held.
A great number of people headed by the Council of Twelve and Mr Philemon,
accompanied by various bands of music and the caretakers of theStadion,
carrying the flags of the nations,who had been represented in the Olympic
Games, marched to the Royal Palace, where they demanded to seethe Crown-prince.
His Royal Highness appeared on the balcony with his two brothers. Prince
George and Prince Nicolas, whereupon Mr Deligeorgi in the name of the Council
of Twelve presented him with a laurelwreath, accompanying the gift with
a few well chosen words. The Prince returned thanks and ended bis speech
with the words : « Long live Greece.» Mr Orphanidhis
spoke after this in the name of all the Olympic Champions and the Prince
answered in appropriate terms.
After this the procession marched before the office of the General Committee,
where Mr C. Papamichalopoulos, deputy and member of a Commission to superintend
the Athletic education of Greek youths, made a short speech, addressing
Mr Vikelas, president of the International Committee for the Olympic Games,
and Mr Philemon, General Secretary. After this the crowd dispersed.
In the evening the illumination of the venerable ruins on the Acropolis
seemed to symbolize the triumph of ancient institutions with the revival
of the Olympic Games.
The round of festivities was concluded by a farewell banquet, which
the mayor and the municipality of Athens gave on the nextfollowing day
at Kephissia to the foreign competitors. The invitations amounted to about
one hundred and sixty ; amongst the guests, who honoured the banquet with
their presence were the Crown prince, Prince George and Prince Nicolas,
the ministers, the members of the various committees the foreign and Greek
competitors, the representatives of the press etc. The mayor of Athens
after having drunk to the health of the King, proposed a toast in honour
of the Crownprince and of the Princes George and Nicolas, in which he mentioned
the gratitude of the town of Athens for the generous help they had given,
in order to bring about such a great undertaking as the revival of the
Olympic Games. The Crownprince returned thanks. Mr Philemon toasted after
this the government and Mr. Delyanni, ministre president, returned thanks
in the name of the other ministers. Several other toasts followed, the
most enthusiastically felt was certainly that of Mr Kemeny, representative
of Hungary. The whole group of guests was afterwards photographed, and
the banquet came to an end amidst signs of general rejoicings.
On the nextfollowing day the foreign guests began to depart from Greece
where they had certainly received till up to the last moments of their
stay, tokens of sympathy. May we therefore express the hope that they have
carried away with them kindly recollections of the people in general,and
that we have persuaded them to agree with the concluding part of the King's
speech : «May Greece be destined to become the peaceful meeting ground
of all nationalities, and may Athens become the permanent seat of the Olympic
Official Report 1896)
Prizes ceremony 1896 with the King.
Scribners Magazine, vol. July - December 1896, page 282:
The new Olympic Games
The thorough and unquestioned amateur spirit of the whole contest is
most conspicuously shown in this case of Loues ; but besides this a charge
made in one of the papers that a German, Schumann, who won the wrestling
match, was a professional, was thoroughly sifted and disproved. The entire
absence of betting also is another pleasant feature in which the games
differed from many other athletic contests of the modern world. Athletics
moved on a high plane, and were carried on with a dignity that ought not
soon to be forgotten.
The amateur spirit of the occasion was emphasized again at the final
scene, the distribution of the prizes. Although the bestowal of a prize
can never equal in interest the winning of it, still an enormous crowd
had gathered in the Stadion on Wednesday morning after the disappointment
of Tuesday. It was the gala day of the festival, with no anxious straining
of mind or muscle, but pervaded by general gladness.
The prizes looked very simple, the committee having decided to award
no prizes of value. But there lay one prize which an Olympionikes might
well covet, branches of wild olive, fresh from Olympia, to be given to
each victor along with his medal and diploma. Those who had won two contests
received two branches. When the king had given to each victor his prizes
with fitting words and smiles, the crowd appropriated the remainder of
the pile of branches. Every twig and every leaf was treasured up as a souvenir
of the occasion.
The Crown Prince had offered a silver cup to the victor with the
discus. The king for a moment gave place to the Crown Princess, the
sister of the Emperor of Germany, who presented this beautiful cup to Garrett.
Loues also must needs have something more than the " corruptible crown."
He received the magnificent silver cup given by the Frenchman Breal, as
well as an ancient vase portraying a race, which he afterwards, with rare
good sense, presented to the museum. The appearance of Loues was again
the signal for the crowd to turn frantic with joy. Greek flags appeared
everywhere, from the big one at the masthead to the little ones carried
up into the air by numerous doves. Flags and flowers literally filled the