Chariot races

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Chariot races

Postby Curio Agelastus on Mon Sep 23, 2002 8:17 pm

Salvete omnes,

I recently read some material written by one Sidius Apollonius, the bishop of Auvergne in the late 5th century AD. He was describing a chariot race. Near the end, he states that the losers were granted with colourful toupees, or wigs of many colours, as I believe Sidius referred to them.

I was wondering if anyone had heard of any other such humorous prizes granted to those who came last in chariot races? Perhaps not a plastic duck... :-D But maybe wreaths made of the leaves of a less popular tree? Or another such humorous symbol that indicated the status of the loser? Has anyone heard of any such occurrences?

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Fri Sep 27, 2002 1:17 pm

Funny. It's the first thing I hear of it. However, thinking of the Romans' sense of humour it doesn't really surprise me. If wigs were given I suppose that phallic objects were also popular - it's a shame that centuries of christian traditions in preserving the literary Roman heritage have consequently ignored this aspect. The Romans and Greeks were far from prude!

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difference

Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Mon Sep 30, 2002 11:25 am

Salvete,


This showes clearly the difference between gladiator contests and chariot races. In the races losers were 'granted' a 'prize' (how ridicule it may have been), whilst in gladiator contests even the winner wasn't sure about his life.

But gladiators were almost always slaves. What about Chariot racers?


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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Tue May 06, 2003 4:00 pm

Salve Locate,

I was diggin' in the archives and I saw this question still lingering ;).

Yes, chariot drivers were usually slaves. Their status was somewhat different than that of a gladiator, but I wouldn't be so sure that they were more certain of their lives. Although our virtual ludi reports contain no casualties, I don't think the average lifespan of a charioteer was impressive.

There are, of course, also records of free men entering the races, the most notable example being Nero. Commodus entered gladiatorial combats. Countrary to the image presented in the move "Gladiator", the real Commodus was quite dim-witted, actually.

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Wed May 07, 2003 1:16 pm

Salvete

Death of a gladiator in the arena was not as common as one would think. They were simply too expensive to train and maintain to waste so. Anyway, death for the loser may not be such a bad reward either. It was a religious ceremony do not forget, and the loser sacrificed held certain connotations that may have been viewed beneficial for him. Human sacrifice is often considered to bestow immortality or divinity. In the Mayan ball contests, it was the winning team who received the honor of being sacrificed to the gods, and in Mayan myth the dead ballplayers then became as gods. Such is not expressed for Roman gladiators but Romans did extol honorable death and I would not doubt there was some idea that a gladiator who received his death well received a reward in the afterlife.

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