The Circus Maximus And Chariot Racing

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  • Created by: MaaB
  • Created on: 13-06-16 12:27

Circus Maximus

  • This was the oldest and largest circus in Rome.
  • It was situated between the Palatine and Avatine Hill and was a permanent structure of vast size.
  • It was estimated to have been able to seat 250,000 people.
  • The seats were closely packed and men and women would be mixed.
  • Like the Colosseum, lower seats were made of marble and were reserved for leading senators. The second tier was wooden and the top tier would only have room to stand.
  • The Circus Maximus was so huge that the top seats would barely show any of the action.
  • The track was roughly 550 metres in length.
  • In the middle of the track, there was a spina (central wall, and at the end of the spina there were meta (turning posts).
  • Lap markers would be displayed on the spina.
  • They were decorative and would feature either bronze dolphins or stone eggs.
  • These would be removed after each lap had been completed.
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The Races

  • Chariot racing appealed to all social classes - from slaves to emperors.
  • The appeal was enhanced by private bettings as there was no public gambling.
  • The popularity is reflected in household items decorated with racing motifs.
  • Usual teams were four horse chariot - two main horses + two 'trace' horses loosely connected to the outside.
  • The chariots were designed to be as small and lightweight as possible.
  • Military chariots = larger + often reinforced with metal, racing chariots = wooden + little support/protection for charioteers - the skill/bravery were respected.
  • Charioteers would dress in team colours.
  • Began with a signal from a presiding magistrate/senator with a white cloth.
  • Slaves opened gates, racers came out of carceres (wooden starting blocks).
  • Reigns wrapped around bodies and they aimed to be close to the central spina.
  • The turn was the most crucial part so drivers would aim for the best line.
  • Drivers aimed to graze stone blocks with his chariot but too sharp a collision threw the charioteer out of the chariot and he'd be dragged behind his horses.
  • The tension would build until the final sprint.
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The Races 2

  • A storm of applause would greet the winner and supporters for his colour would go wild in the stands.
  • When the race was over, the presiding magistrate ceremoniously presented the winner with a palm branch and wreath while crowds cheered wildly.
  • Larger rewards for stable and driver would be presented later.
  • Most charioteers were slaves/freedmen but, if successful, received gifts and high salaries from the managers of the different 'colours'.
  • These teams would have a huge staff of trainers, grooms and saddlers.
  • Best charioteers could sell their services to the team paying the highest fee.
  • The most successful drivers were wealth and idolisation by the Roman public.
  • Diocles (rider) retired after 4,257 races/1,462 victories. Earned 35mil sesterces.
  • Like the racers, horses were admired for their speed, bravery, and determination.
  • Team managers paid high salaries if they brought success for their 'colours'
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