08.12.12 — The Naked Olympics — the Acrostic

Sunday, August 12, 2012

ACROSTIC, Puzzle by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon
Edited by Will Shortz

This Sunday’s timely, winning acrostic draws a quotation from The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games by Tony Perrotttet.

Combining a wealth of vivid details with a knack for narrative pacing and subtle humor, Perrottet (Pagan Holiday) renders a striking portrayal of the Greek Olympics and their role in the ancient world. While our modern games certainly pay homage to the Greek festival that was held uninterrupted for more than 1,200 years, the book's title refers to the most pronounced difference between the two: Ancient athletes competed in the nude, adorned only with olive oil. While Perrottet also outlines events ranging from the merciless chariot races to the pankration a sort of early predecessor of ultimate fighting in which strangulation was seen as the surest means of attaining victory he also puts the games in their heavy religious context and gives readers a strong sense of what they were like from a spectator's point of view. That they were cramped, hot and dizzyingly unsanitary apparently did little to dissuade throngs of people from the often treacherous journey to Olympia to catch glimpses of their heroes. And their experiences provided by Perrottet are what separate this book from staid history. His goal, he writes at the outset, is "to create the ancient games in their sprawling, human entirety," so readers are treated not only to a thorough picture of the games' proceedings but also to glimpses of the shameless bacchanalia, numerous (and often lascivious) entertainments and even corruption that accompanied them. It's an entertaining, edifying account that puts a human face on one of humanity's most remarkable spectacles. ~ Agent, Elizabeth Sheinkman, Google Books


The author’s name and the title of the work: PERROTTET, THE NAKED OLYMPICS

The defined words:

A. Size, shape and proportions, PHYSIQUE
B. Important figure in geometry, EUCLID
C. Open showily again after a quiescent period, REFLOWER
D. Winner of horse racing’s Triple Tiara in 1975, RUFFIAN
E. Heavily favored competitor, OVERDOG
F. Quite a crowd, THOUSANDS
G. Trendy fad based on an act of devotion, TEBOWING
H. Number after the last number, ENCORE
I. Misled; cast aside; emitted (2 wds.), THREW OFF
J. Post-prime part of a career, TWILIGHT
K. Lover of Apollo killed trying to catch a discus, HYACINTH
L. Rowing event; key pool balls, EIGHTS
M. Apprise, tell, inform, NOTIFY
N. Rituals usually involving water, ABLUTIONS
O. Mug, puss, KISSER
P. H. L. Mencken coinage for a stripper, ECDYSIAST
Q. NBC newsmagazine since 1992, “DATELINE
R. Best in industry, OUTWORK
S. “If the world were a LOGICAL place, men would ride side-saddle” (Rita Mae Brown)
T. Standard for comparison, YARDSTICK
U. Collect some hardware, MEDAL
V. Superior skill, exceptional ability, PROWESS
W. Poem inspiring South Africa’s 1995 World Cup rugby team, in film, "INVICTUS"
X. Something raced in a hippodrome, CHARIOT
Y. Herculean attribute, STRENGTH


The full paragraphs of the quotation: The only inn at ancient Olympia, the Leonidaion, was reserved for ambassadors and officials, so everyone else was left to fend for themselves. The Sacred Precinct of Zeus—a walled-off enclave of pagan temples and shrines—was besieged on all sides by a vast, anarchic campground, and the rowdy throngs all set to claiming their own space, in keeping with their station: Most simply flung their bedding wherever they could, huddling between altars, crowding elegant colonnades, nestling between the statues of illustrious sporting champions. Others rented space in temporary shelters or put up their own tents, sprawling like refugees across the surround countryside. Plato himself once slept in a makeshift barracks, head to toe with snoring, drunken strangers.

The smoke from thousands of cooking fires created a pall of pollution Crowd control was enforced by local officials with whips.

Not for nothing does our word chaos derive from the ancient Greek; with its lack of basic sanitation or facilities, the Olympic festival was the Woodstock of antiquity. ~ The Naked Olympics


Click on image to enlarge.

Puzzle available on the internet at


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