The Crown of Wild Olive | work by Ruskin |

The Crown of Wild Olive Book Summary -

The Crown of Wild Olive

The Truce of the Games is a short story first published in 1971 by Hamish Hamilton, illustrated by Victor Ambrus. It was retitled "A Crown of Wild Olive" for the 1972 collection Heather, Oak, and Olive and is usually anthologized under that name.

A young Athenian athlete befriends his Spartan competitor during the brief Olympic truce in the midst of the Peloponnesian War.

Amyntas is the youngest athlete – too young for military service – in the Athenian delegation to the Olympic Games in the year after the reignition of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. In the athletes' quarters he meets Leon, his Spartan competitor in the boys' double stade footrace, and befriends him despite Amyntas's shyness and Leon's taciturnity.

Amyntas and Leon fall into each other's company during the month of training leading up to the Games, frequenting the festival's fairgrounds, the riverbanks, and clearing the disused stadium. Discussing their rivals from Megara, Thrace, and around the Hellenic world, they acknowledge that they two are each other's only real competition. Returning discomfitted to the training grounds, Leon steps on an abandoned sickle blade, delaying his training for days.

Amyntas, guiltily aware that Leon's injury could win him the victory for Athens, makes a sacrifice to Olympian Zeus, that he might perform his best without regard to anything else.

Leon's foot heals and the Games open. As they both foresaw, Amyntas and Leon are neck and neck down the home stretch, when Amyntas realises that the cut on Leon's foot has reopened. Amyntas wavers, torn between throwing a now dubious contest, winning it for his city, or shaming his friend by allowing him the victory, until he recalls his prayer to Zeus. Amyntas takes the race.