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Romans loved chariot racing

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Chariot racing
Chariot racing

Alongside the gladiatorial fights, the Romans also loved chariot racing. The fans were divided into specific factions (factiones), depending on the colours. In Rome, four such fan clubs were classically distinguished: red (russata), green (prasina), white (albata) and blue (veneta).

The best coachmen were great stars in Rome. More than once they gained a great fortune and adoration of Roman women. Most of the coachmen were recruited from slaves. It happened, however, that some impoverished citizens decided to take this path of acquiring fortune and fame. During the race, in order not to release the reins, they tied them around (and therefore always carried knives so that they could cut the reins in the event of an accident – which did not always work).

The carriage was in a standing position. The coachmen wore a tunic in a colour matching the colours of the party they represented. The arenas of the Great Circus had their great heroes. A certain Gaius Apuleius Diocles won in 1462, and in 1437 races he finished second.

It is worth mentioning that the green fanatic was Emperor Caligula, who spent hours in their stables. Since the times of Domitian, the colours yellow (golden) and light purple (dark purple was reserved for the emperor) were also used.

More about chariot racing

  • John Humphrey, Roman circuses: arenas for chariot racing, 1986

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