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Main Functions Of The Games In Ancient Rome

1977 words - 8 pages

Main Functions of the Games in Ancient Rome

The 2 main kinds of games that took place in ancient Rome were those
of ludi scaenici (theatre and plays) and those of ludi circenses
(sports). This evaluation of Roman games will concentrate on the
sports side of Roman entertainment due to their much higher popularity
i.e. chariot racing and the gladiators.

Chariot racing is one of the oldest spectator sports in Rome dating
back to at least 6BC. The races started to celebrate religious
festivals, the very first recorded one was the festival of to consus,
this festival known as the Consualia was celebrated on the 21st August
in Rome, which happened to be the local Derby Day, the main event of
the racing calendar. The underground granary where the shrine to
Consus where the opening sacrifices took place was located in the
center of the Circus Maximus where the racing took place.

Like racing, gladiators probably originated as funeral games, with
religious significance attached to what in affect was the ritual
sacrifice of the gladiators themselves. The first recorded gladiator
fight was in 264BC, when 3 pairs of gladiators fought to the death
during the funeral of Junius Brutus. The gladiator fights were known
as munera as they were originally 'duties' paid to dead ancestors.
They gradually lost their connection to funerals under the Roman
Empire and became an important stage for emperors and leaders to put
on spectacles for their own reasons.

The games in ancient Rome have a long and colorful history, and were
an incredibly large part of the culture of the great empire. For the
purposes of this essay, 3 main functions of the games will be
described and discussed. These are: 1-passion for sport,
2-celebrations and to show the power of leaders and 3-political
purposes. These are the most important functions with political
purposes being at the top of the list. Religious celebrations are also
very important, as discussed briefly earlier, but they seem to be
overshadowed by the way different leaders have manipulated the crowds
for there own reasons and this is ultimately what is most worth
concentrating on.

(See Martin Goodman, The Roman World 44BC-AD180)

· Passion for sport

The Romans, like all other civilizations loved games, the way the
people of Britain seem to be obsessed with football. Gambling took
place in and outside of the stadiums by private betting, there was no
public betting on the chariot racing but imagine if you can, horse
racing in England with no gambling allowed! No one would care so much
about it. The thrill of a race with money on was obviously a very
pleasurable pastime. The Romans had many public holidays and the
majority of these holidays had public games, it is an integrated part
of their culture. The majority of the contestants were slaves and...

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