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Introduction Despite the prominence of chariot racing in the popular view of Roman life and indeed in Roman life itselfthe literature in English remains scanty. For how races were actually conducted, we must turn to J. Arenas for Chariot Racinga large, beautifully illustrated volume that marshals all the evidence available to the author in Little of the evidence is in literary form; most surviving observations are from moralists whose chief concern was the effect of the races on the spectators.
The best actual narrative of a race is from the fifth-century poet Sidonius Apollinaris see Appendix. His gripping play-by-play commentary on a four-team race conveys wonderfully the atmosphere of a hippodrome, probably the Circus Maximus itself. His description of a wreck resulting from such a maneuver is gruesome, suggesting a great many limbs broken if not actually twisted in the spokes as he describes.
Inevitably, better representations in the form of mosaics, reliefs, lamps, and other decorative art survive from the late Roman period than from the republic and early empire. The following discussion should be considered relevant chiefly to racing in the Circus Maximus during the fourth and fifth centuries.
The chariots It is unfortunate that the popular idea of the racing chariot has derived from the one driven by Ben Hur.
Surviving figurines and other representations show that the typical racing chariot was more like a basket on wheels. The driver stood on webbing that gave him a good, springy foothold. He is sometimes shown as in fig.
The driver could also brace a knee against the dashboard or hoop as he leaned forward fig. The sparsores Some ancient circus scenes show figures on foot inside the arena, and in many cases these appear to be boys or men carrying a vessel.
They are dressed in short tunics, often bound by broad girdles, and sometimes have one or both knees bandaged. The vessel is shown in various forms: Humphrey rightly rejects the notion that these sparsores or sprinklers if they are to be identified with the attendants so called on monuments are watering the track.
Junkelmann, also allows the possibility that they are throwing water over the axles to cool them. Nor does the art suggest that such an operation was taking place. Humphrey, followed by others, prefers to believe that the sparsores are wetting the faces of the animals. Basil says that water was poured into the mouths of the panting horses on the track, but he may be thinking of the refreshment given at the end of the race, as shown in the mosaic below; it is impossible to conceive of such an operation being performed during the race itself, unless the teams made actual pit stops.
Note the amphora on the track, suggesting that the other horses have already been so treated. Another attendant raises his right hand in a characteristic gesture seemingly associated with victory.
Magic was a large part of the culture of chariot racing, even into Christian times. Surviving leaden curse tablets show how evil forces were invoked against charioteers, who themselves might become adept in the black arts.Prior Park College. One of the UK's largest, co-educational, Catholic, independent senior schools, set in a breathtaking location overlooking the World Heritage city of Bath.
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Notes  A good if somewhat dated general view is given by H.A. Harris in his Sport in Greece and Rome (). (Harris is mistaken in placing the finishing-line at the near turning-post [p.
]; see Humphrey pp. 85 ff.) The only book-length survey, Fik Meijer’s Chariot Racing in the Roman Empire (), is a somewhat unfocused (and poorly illustrated) popular treatment that contains some.
F or participants in a sport where peeling out at the top of a rapid almost inevitably results in arriving at the bottom, kayakers seem surprisingly indifferent to matters of style.
Things can go pretty badly awry, and onlookers might roll their eyes at a particularly bad line, but someone would have to be radically over his head before anyone would be likely to say anything about it. Are you ready to get started? Choose your package, and we will begin today!
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