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Circus M Aximus Essay

1499 words - 6 pages

The ancient Romans created many architectural and engineering marvels. Marvels such as aqueducts, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and many more. None affected as many Romans more so than the Circus Maximus. The Circus Maximus, the great Roman chariot racing stadium, attracted visitors from far and wide. The Circus Maximus can only be properly described by its history, construction, use, importance to the Romans, and what it reveals about the Romans.
The Circus Maximus, located between the Aventine and Palatine hills, and near the Colosseum, began as no more than just a flat track for races, but its future could not have been foreseen. The Circus Maximus grew and developed with the Roman ...view middle of the document...

It is at this point in history that the Circus Maximus can be considered complete. Rulers after this point only added additional decorations, such as Constantine adding bronze statues, and repaired the Circus Maximus when needed. The Circus Maximus remained in use from about the 5th or 6th century BC to about the 6th century AD or about 1000 years. The final known race was held in 549 AD. Sadly the Circus fell into disrepair after the 6th century AD. The Circus was quarried for material and constant flooding destroyed a portion of it. The track of the Circus Maximus now sits about 6m under the ground due to the flooding. The area where the Circus Maximus used to be is now a public park.
The final structure had a track that measured 621 m (2,037 ft) in length and 118 m (387 ft) in width. The seating was made in 30 m (98 ft) wide and 28 m (91 ft) chunks running the entire perimeter of the track. Each chunk was separated by walkways. Twelve staggered starting gates were used in the Circus and lap counters were used. The lap counters were large sculpted eggs and later bronze dolphins suspended above the central dividing barrier.The Circus Maximus is estimated to have been able to seat 150,000 with some estimates of up to 250,000. To put this into context the Colosseum seats around 50,000 to 80,00, while Folsom Field seats around 50,000. It contained four zones of seating with the closest seats for the senators and the farther seats for plebes and non-citizens. Originally the seating was a mixture of stone and wood. However, the wood was a fire hazard and stone was exclusively used for the final form of the Circus Maximus. The stone building allowed for the creation of the arches seen in drawings of the Circus Maximus in addition to safety. The entrance is the triple arch that honors Titus. The Circus Maximus also contained many decorations. Already mentioned are the bronze dolphins and sculpted eggs that acted as lap counter. Augustus brought from Egypt an obelisk that was located at the middle barrier in the Circus. The pulvinar housed images and decorations related to the gods and stood high above the stadium. All the decorations that were put in the Circus Maximus had a reason behind it. The sculpted eggs refer the Pollux and Castor, who are the divine patrons of everything equestrian. The dolphin is due to the fact the Romans considered the dolphin the swiftest of all animals. The obelisk stood as a trophy for Augustus’ triumph in Egypt.
Many events took place at the Circus Maximus the main one being chariot races. Other common events were wild beast hunts, gladiator fights, and plays. These events typically occurred for religious reasons early in the Roman civilization. The Romans called these events ludi, which when translated means “games”. These games would take place over a half day to multiple days. The shorter games typically would be for entertainment or a short religious ceremony. The longer games would be a grand celebration for large...

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