Learn the Earliest Forms of Gambling in Ancient Greece

Learn the Earliest Forms of Gambling in Ancient Greece

One of the earliest forms of entertainment in the world is gambling. Long before online gambling, there are many pieces of evidence that prove gambling activities dated back from ancient civilisations. Gambling in its elementary form was a great point of interest to ancient Greeks.

Keep reading to know the earliest forms of gambling in ancient Greece.

Learn the Earliest Forms of Gambling in Ancient Greece

Gambling and the Gods in ancient Greek literature

Gambling was present in ancient Greece since the dawn of human civilization. Just like their Egyptian forerunners, the Greeks believed that the act of gambling started among the Gods. The first example of gambling was taken from Greek mythology when Poseidon, Zeus and Hades cast lots to split parts of the universe. After the final wager, Poseidon won the sea, Zeus got the heaven and Hades won over the underworld.

It is believed that ancient Greece gamblers had the support of two Gods: Hermes and Pan. Hermes was the messenger of God and was also considered as the protector of thieves and herdsmen. On the other side, Pan was the God of the wild, being closely connected with nature and fertility. There are depictions which show that even Gods were using dices to reveal outcomes.

Another tale from Greek mythology refers to Poseidon and Athena. They both competed over the patronage of the city of Athens and on losing, Poseidon cursed that the city of Athens will never have enough water.

Games that ancient Greeks played

There are some forms of games that exist today in all live casinos and were played in ancient Greece. Everyone in ancient Greece enjoyed gambling and even though it was illegal at that time, many people practised it quite often. Like the game offered in top live casinos, popular games in ancient Greece included Dice games, Heads and Tails, checkers and many more.

Dice games were introduced later in the cultural life of ancient Greeks. The first dice originated in the 7th century B.C. Before the use of dice, people in ancient Greece used astragalis. The astragalis were small knucklebones, used originally for playing the game astragalis and other games.

As per the online gambling sites offering casino bonuses, they were also used to predict the future and to provide future divination. Depending on the landing side of knucklebone, special names for the throws were given and certain points were allotted to each side. The winner in the game was the one with the higher points in the end.

Appearance of the board and dice games in Greece

There were two types of dice games played in ancient Greece: one that included dices and others that included boards. Most games used three or four dice which were shaken in a special cup. A vase painted by Exekias which portrays Greek heroes Ajax and Achilles playing dice during the Trojan war is the most famous artwork related to dices.

Tessera was also one of the most popular dice games in Ancient Greece. Board games were much more widely played among ordinary people. The board game called ‘petteia’ was played on boards of varying sizes with black and white stones lined on opposite sides. It became so popular that the term “petteia” became common for sorts of board games.

The public opinion about ancient gambling

Gambling was an inseparable part of the cultural life of people in ancient Greece. Sources point out that at least two forms of games were played by the common people: heads and tails as well as board games. Betting was also common at that time and many artefacts reveal scenes of wagering where people bet on animal fights.

However, besides being widely practised, gambling was not something that passed without opposition in ancient Greece. Many authors opposed gambling practices because of their harmful effect on mind and soul. According to them, gambling intensified some low desires of the human such as greed.

Centuries of changes

In ancient times, it was believed that the outcome of dice games was controlled by the Gods and had nothing to do with luck. Thus, dice were used to determine the outcome of certain circumstances by ancient Greeks.

As expected, games have changed throughout the centuries and eventually became advanced, which gives a seamless experience while gambling. Many table games popular in Ancient Greece offer a lot of fun and entertainment, even today.


Name: Learn the Earliest Forms of Gambling in Ancient Greece
Author : Robert Davey
Published Date: 30/09/2019