What is your first association when someone mentions gambling? For some, the first thought is the casino, for other – pokies, and so on. But I bet no one thinks about ancient Greece instantly. Believe it or not, but the origins of many games that we play today are deeply rooted in ancient civilizations. Ancient Greece was one of the most prolific societies that adored all types of games. They thought a lot about the world that surrounds them and the human place in it. Reportedly it has been recorded that even Plato said: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”. Join us for the walk through ancient Greece and the origins of gambling.
I know of several games where shooting 2 dice of six is considered to be a good start, or a lucky sign at least. The 6s have a special meaning in various civilizations. They bring luck and enjoy the protection of Gods. Mathematicians believe six is a perfect number. A well-balanced number that brings harmony.
The ancient Greeks believed and proved that six is the first of a few rare perfect numbers. You can divide it with 1, 2 and 3. On the other hand, if you add up those numbers, you get 6. This type of harmony is what characterizes all perfect numbers.
People have always been amazed by the dice and its six sides. They explored the possibilities, the odds and the mathematics behind it. The Greeks were one of the first civilizations to start gambling. The Minoan civilization, for example, invented the poker, according to some of the researchers. As a quick reminder, this was 3,500 years ago. And do you know what they called a double six throw of a dice? The “throw of Aphrodite”.
Aphrodite was a Greek goddess of pleasure and passion, among many other positive and sweet aspects. What later Venus was to Romans, Aphrodite was to the Greeks. So, from our perspective, she was the protector of the first gamblers.
The Gods Gambled As Well
The Greeks believed that they enjoy the protection of many gods in various fields of their lives. There are many written evidences of how some kind of gambling was important to them. Reportedly, even in the works of Homer, there are references to gambling.
Apart from dice games, the ancient Greeks engaged in the games of “heads and tails”, for example. Interestingly, the stigma that still exists today was present in those ancient times as well. However, the Greeks had an entire pantheon of gods to boost their confidence and protect their reputation.
Aside from Aphrodite that protected them and was fond of the passionate souls, Hermes favored those interested in wealth, luck, and even theft. For example, this was one of the “naughty” gods of the Olymp. However, many legends ascribed cleverness to his character. Hence, we know him today as the herald and messenger.
The almighty Zeus also involved in gambling. There is a famous myth about the game that Zeus played with Hades and Poseidon. Namely, they threw dice in order to decide on how to split the universe to heaven, hell and sea.
Board Games and Similar
The Greeks played various board games that included dice. Additionally, they played a game very similar to “heads and tails” to decide on the outcome of an event. In stead of a coin, they originally used shells
The game called “Tilia” was a game of twelve lines, similar to “Checkers”.
The Greeks also used to organize some kind of sports betting, usually related to animal fights.
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