Classics Final Textbook Notes.docx

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Western University
Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2300
David Lamari

Classics Final Textbook Notes Kohne Chapter 4Charioteers and Circus Factions o The degree of spectacle surrounding the chariot race can be attributed to the clip in the 1959 movie by William Wyler Ben Hur o At the start of the race in this movie there are nine teamsan incorrect number of teams in a true Roman chariot race o Horses and charioteers were provided by the factiones or racing clubs o It was organized and financial supported by a wealthy aspiring politician or someone trying to gain favour with the citizenryo There were four main factiones the two main groups the Blues and the Greens and the two subgroups is Reds and the Whites o The number of participating teams could always be divided by four why Ben Hurs nine does not make sense o The races were held in the west of the empire in the imperial period Races did not become the norm in the east until the fourth century ad o There were no factiones in the east and as such people of rank and fortune could participate in the events this was not the cast in Rome and the westo The Roman charioteers aurigae were slaves or freedman but they could improve their low class status by winning fame and fortune through the games o The fans tended to follow the factiones or racingcolours way more then the actual charioteero The famous auriga Scorpus won over a thousand races and some two thousand other events o Some aurigae would move between factiones while others would committed themselves entirely to one o The factions were very profitable and were managed by domini factionis faction masters usually of the knightly classo In later years of the empire many factions become staterun organizations and the entire entertainment industry was under state control o The faction masters were replaced by the stateappointed factionarii often excharioteerso Successful charioteers could amass huge fortunes the prizes for chariot races in Rome were 1500016000 sesterii a race at the time a legionarys annual pay was 900 o Gaius Appuleius Diocles participated in 4357 races won 1462 and retired at 42 with 35863120 sestertiio Charioteers were at great risk of injury and even deathhowever death was unlikelyHorses o Horses to which the charioteers owed their victories were equally as famous as the charioteers o There was a great love for race horses within Roman society o Horses received prizes when the won an example being a palm branch stuck in their harnesso Upon retirement horses were given pensions and had honourable burialso There were bred and trained on imperial and private stud farmsthe most successful coming from North Africa and Spain o Roman horses were a medium size by todays standards but at 135155cm high there were large animals for their time o Proper grooming such as hard healthy hooves were of great importanceo Horse injuries and losses were common as a simple broken bone could not be fixedThe Chariots o The standard vehicle was the quadriga and it was adopted from the Greeks and had four horses side by side o The Biga was a twohorse chariot and was also common o The triga the threehorse chariot was used rarely and mostly in races with religious connotation o Sometimes there were chariots with six horses seiugage eight octoiugae or ten decemiugaeo The horses were harnessed side by side in order to make as striking a visible impression as possible o The harness consisted of a strap around the neck and a girth around the bellyo Only the two central horses were beneath the yoke the bar coming off the chariot and were called in iugales All other horses were harnessed to the right or lefto The chariots in Ben Hur are much too heavy and elaborate to be accurateo The most common chariot in visual record are triumphal chariots twowheel drawn by a team of four horses Triumphal chariots were solely used for prestigeo Visual representations of chariots in the circus present a different picture They had a long straight axle small light wheels which both helped stabilize the vehicle on sharp turns The body unlike the triumphal chariot only held one person The wheel has six or eight spokes and thin iron tires Equipment and racing technique of the charioteerso Differences between the Greek and roman style of chariot racing can be seen in the equipment and technique o Greeks wore long chiton and no protection while Romans on the other hand had protective clothing including a crash helmet leather around the torso and legso The auriga carried a knife so that in case of a crash they could cut themselves free of the reins so not to get dragged o There was greater chance of getting drag for the Romans as they tied the reins around their wrists o The race itself was very dangerous as chariots would try to push out other charioteers This was particularly dangerous around the matea turning posts o It was common for a spectacular accident to occur whereby the chariot teams were a complete write off The Romans called this naufragium meaning shipwreck The Circuso The circus was the most expansive of Roman entertainment forums It was also not common outside of Romeo The Circus Maximus had a area of 45000 square metres twelve times larger than the Colosseum and could fit 150000 spectatorso The circus was on a plane in between the Palatine and the Aventine hillso The idea of a circus was a Roman invention Greek ran their races on improvised tracks called hippodromeso The circus was not only the scene for chariot racing but also of other athletic events and animal hunts o The form of it was similar to a stadium it has two parallel sides one curved narrow side and one straight narrow side it was about 550580 meters long and about 80 meters wideo The straighter narrow side contained the twelve starting boxes carceres The larger part of the arena was divided down its length by a double wall forming barrier the spina The matea or turning posts were on either end o The spina was decorated with statutes of gods palms and obelisks It also contained platforms with sets of seven eggs shapes and dolphin shapesthese were used as counterso The distance from the carceres starting grate and the meta was 170 meters the charioteers had to drive counterclockwise around the track seven times o They used staggered starting blocks much like modern day track to make sure everyone reached the white chalk line at the same time When at this line you could move outside of your laneo The finish line was most likely on the right hand side of the track just before the end of the spinao It was crucial that the surface of the circus be smooth and consistent The top layer was sand and was leveled and a drainage device was probably used
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