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newtimes - 12 days ago

Origin of ordinary things: Trophies

By any objective measure, trophies are most easily defined as a symbol or token of victory. They are also largely a memento of personal achievement. Throughout history, trophies are often awarded for sporting events, from youth sports to professional level athletics. But how did we get here? According to Encyclopaedia, the word “trophy” is derived from the Greek word “tropaion”, which comes from the verb trope, meaning “to rout”. In ancient Greece, trophies reflected victory in war, and were created on the battlefield at the place where the enemy had been defeated. These trophies included captured arms and standards, and were hung upon a tree or a large stake made to resemble the figure of a warrior. They were inscribed with details of the battle and were dedicated to a god or gods. Naval trophies consisted of entire ships (or what remained of them) laid out on the nearest beach to represent the conquest. The deliberate destruction of a trophy was considered a sacrilege since it was given in thanks and tribute to a god. The ancient Romans wanted to keep their trophies closer to home. Instead of a tribute to the victors and the gods on the spot of the victory, the Romans had special trophies constructed in Rome. These magnificent trophies often included columns and arches atop a foundation. There remain, still, outside of Rome, huge stone memorials that were originally crowned with sculpted stone trophies, now gone. The middle age came with glittering awards, one of the most recognisable forms in the world of trophies. The chalice, often taking the form of a two-handled cup, was given to the winners of sporting events as early as the 17th Century. These cup-shaped trophies are still popular today and are often used in sailing, horse-racing and auto-racing. Of course, the Stanley Cup and Davis Cup are among the most well-known chalice designs of all. Trophies and awards today often go back to older designs such as the Chalice Cup. Even modern Olympic medals have been known to feature flourishes reminiscent of much earlier awards. Still, there are two important differences between awards and trophies today and those in the past. The first is cost. Thanks to the ready availability of resin, plastics and glass, trophies simply don’t cost as much today as they did even 10 years ago.


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