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Lecture 16

Lecture 16 - Roman Chariot Racing.docx

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Western University
Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2300
David Lamari

Roman Chariot Racing  When an aristocrat hires an acting crew, they get money – you get royalties every time it was performed – this is how it was in the Elizabethan Era, not how it was in Ancient Rome  Infames – term for anyone that was disgraceful o Forge documents, go bankrupt, etc. o The most famous infames were the public performers Chariot Racing  Chariot racing was more important to the Romans than gladiators  Demographics of the charioteer – they are slaves or freedmen o Have to infames  So much money to be made as a top-notch charioteer o Why don’t more people do it?  Dangerous  But in ancient Rome, they played a little “faster and loser” in life  They would say its worth it  You had to be small  Prof spectating – so much profit to be made, the businesses that provided the charioteers, they breed slaves to be charioteers, these businesses were looking all over the world for people to buy and train as charioteers  The slaves get a portion of their winnings – gives them incentive to do their best – they can buy their own freedom  Once he has his freedom, what stops him from going to race for another company? o Nothing - this happened all the time o They move from team to team often, but for the majority of their victories (50% or more) would be with one team Horses  The Roman attitude toward the horses: o Winning horses were highly regarded o Once they were past their racing peek, they were allowed ‘retirement’ o After they won they got high quality food o Fans had an attachment to them  Knew their names  Charioteer and the horse even gets a palm branch for the victory lap  People made gravestones for the horses  Even a minor injury can stop a horse from being able to race and often they had to be put down o The Romans loved these horses, but they still attended the games even though they know the horses are being put in harms way  The fans were fond of the charioteers as well, even though they were being put in harms way with high mortality rates on the track – again, hard to account for this  Textbook says we can’t use our modern ways – we can’t think that anything that is dangerous should be avoided o Ex. In our society if there are serious risks, for example concussions, we stop  In Ancient Rome, the horses were smaller  The horses were never used for practical purposes  They were just small and speedy  They were a luxury  To own four of them was quite remarkable Quadriga  Means chariot  Quad means four and four horses with it  What other kinds of chariots were at the games? o 2, 3, 6, 8, 10 o 4 was by far the most common o But 4 could have been custom or it balances the complexity of being able to control the animals o One charioteer trying to control 10 horses was considered to diminish the skills of the charioteer – wasn’t as graceful  No ancient chariots survived – why? o Its all made up of soft animal skill with a light-weight wooden frame o The yoke was attached to the two inner horses and leather straps attach to the outside of the horses o Wheels were very thin and covered with a thin stirp of metal o Light weight – textbook says 25kg  Textbook says that there were two sources of drag in Ancient Rome chariot racing: o The surface (wasn’t frictionless) o The axle – wasn’t frictionless (no lubrication on the wheels)  Said there may have been some machines to dispense olive oil over the wheels Charioteer Equipment  Helmet  Leather strips around chest and legs – they leaned side to side to direct their horses  Small knife – so they can cut the straps on their bodies that are attached to the horses if they fall off and are being dragged by the chariot o Romans provided a lot more equipment  Because the charioteers were racing more? – once a week unlike the Greeks who raced twice per year o Ancient Greeks only wore clothing  Auriga – means charioteer Factions  Now-a-days means rivals  Back in the day means horse racing teams or racing associations o Businesses that produce charioteers that all race together  All the members of a team work together to make sure that one of them win  There were 4 factions o Called the Blues, the Greens, the Reds and the Whites  Each charioteer belonged to a team o They switched teams  Blues and Greens were the best teams – most fans and wins  The textbook says that the Blues and the Whites tended to work together and the Greens and the Reds tend to do the same  The factions were run by equestrians – wealthy businessmen – they owned these teams and ran them for profit o Scowered the Mediterranean looking for top-notch horses o Did this for charioteers, doctors, veterinarians, everything  If you are putting on a festival to make a big impression, you have to go to them and rent as many chariot teams as they need o You have to go to each of the various teams and rent their jockeys, horses, equipment, etc.  Under the emperor, the emperors bought out and made government-owned the four factions  Chariot racing was so politically important, they could risk them being controlled by a private citizen o Never did this with theatre or gladiators o This happens now-a-days, it would be assumed that it was fixed  Why does each chariot race have to have four teams or eight teams or twelve teams? o This is the case no matter where you go in Rome o Always in multiples of four so there was never an advantage – this way it is fair  Textbook mentions a time there were 9  Factions were centered in Rome and if you a Roman politician, you would rent from these factions to entertain the people and make sure it was fair  As you moved outside of Italy, they did it the old fashion Greek way – there was no numbers, people just competed  Ben Hur – Jewish – in the east The Circus Maximus  Chariot races were held in a circus in the Roman and Italian world of the factions  Greeks had a hippodrome  Circus is a Roman invention o Back then meant a circle or circuit  Circus Maximus was the biggest one in Rome o Originally outside of Rome, but as the city kept growing, it was in the middle of the city  If you go North of Rome, you find private circus’s  Circus Maximus didn’t become a building until 1 century BC o Always in Rome it took them a long time to get permanent buildings  Various emperors and politicians kept adding touches to it o Augustus – decorated it with marbles, statues, box seats, a shrine o Julius Caesar added extra levels of seating  600m x 130m  The Maximus was by far the largest building in the ancient world  It seated 150,000  Ancient sources said 250,000 people watched the greatest chariot races o Rome itself only had 1 million people – almost ¼ of the population showed up to watch these races o Set in a valley, so it is possible that there could have been 250,000 people there  Largest seating capacity now-a-days: racetracks – Daytona 500 seats 300,000 o These always get left out, but not in ancient Rome – this was the place to be  How is the seating arranged in Ancient Greece? How did you find your seat in the stadium at the Olympics? o Seated by community  In ancient Rome is was by social class o First Rome was f
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