Kohne chapter 4.docx

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Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2300
James M Olson

Ch.4 – On the Starting Line with Ben Hur: Chariot-Racing in the Circus Maximus  Chariot race presented in Ben Hur in 1959, helped form our picture of the Roman world Charioteers and Circus Factions  Horses and charioteers entered by great circus factions (racing clubs or racing associations)  Four factions: o Two main groups - Blues (veneti), and Greens (prasini) o Two subsidiary factions - Reds (russati), and Whites (albati)  Number of participants in a race had to be divisible by 4 (equal number of chariots from each team) o Usually 12 teams running in total  At time of Ben Hur, under rule of Augustus and Tiberius, chariot racing east of the empire still followed Greek tradition (no well-established associations, just individual teams) o Most owners hired professional charioteers but some drove their own o Also in the east, persons of rank and fortune were not disqualified from taking place in the race o No permanent circuses with starting boxes limited to 12 so any number of teams could enter  Aurigae - Roman charioteers o Generally slaves or freedmen, but in spite of low social status, could win fame and wealth in their profession o Famous auriga, Scorpus, was one of the few charioteers to be a miliarii (won over 1000 races)  Normal for charioteers to switch factions, although most committed themselves to one faction sooner or later  Loyalty of public was to factions rather than individual charioteers  Factions were very profitable; managed by domini factionis (faction masters), usually of knightly class  Headquarters with accommodation and stabling were on Campus Martius in Rome  Late antiquity, tendency for large factions to become state-run bodies, eventually entire entertainment industry came under state control o Domini factionis were replaced by state-appointed factionarii (often ex-charioteers)  Successful charioteers could make a lot of money - prizes for one race = 15,000-60,000 sesterii  Profession entailed great risks; death was by no means certain, unlike gladiatorial combats The Horses  Winning horses enjoyed fame too  Depictions show palm branches being stuck in horses' harnesses and got barley  At the end of a successful career, horses retired on a pension and had an honourable burial  Most successful horses came from North Africa and Spain  Hard, healthy hooves were of great importance since horse shoes weren't used  Greater risk of injury for horses than charioteers in frequent crashes; losses of animals were high (horses with a fracture usually had to be put down) The Chariots  Standard vehicle was the quadriga, adopted from the Greeks, with four horses harnessed side by side Racing with biga (2-horse) was also common; triga (3-horse) used under Etruscan influence in early Roman  period; seiugae (6-horse), octoiugae (8-horse), or decemiugae (10-horse) were also occasionally used o Racing with a large number of horses served mainly to demonstrate bravura skills of individual star charioteers  Iugales - two central horses; main job was to pull and stabilize chariot  Funales - outside horses; job was to ensure security and speed around the bends  Horses harnessed tightly for ease of control (why Romans tied up their tails with ribbons)  Triumphal chariots - two-wheeled vehicles drawn by 4 horses side by side; a non-functional development of the war chariot o Vehicle solely for the purpose of prestige  Racing chariot - for racing, duuhhh o Small and light wheels' body unlike triumphal chariot in that it only held one man, and was small and low, with a woven floor o Wheels had 6 or 8 spokes o Weighed around 25-50kg Equipment and Racing Technique of the Charioteers  Unlike Greeks, Romans developed protective clothing for charioteers o Crash helmet made of leather or felt, lacing of straps around torso, and fasciae (leather or line around legs)  Wrapped reins around their waists, steering chariot by shifting weight o Left hand used to correct course, right hand free to whip o Carried knife in case he fell off, and could cut reins so wouldn’t be dragged by horses  Teamwork between charioteers of factions made the al
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