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What games did Romans play?

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Fresco showing the ancient Romans playing soccer.
Fresco showing the ancient Romans playing soccer.

Roman children played games similar to those we know today. They probably played a variant of hopscotch, they competed in tug of war, tug of war or hide and seek. Paper, scissors and stone were played in Rome and Egypt. The boys probably played war with the use of wooden swordtails and recreated the siege of Troy, popular in ancient times.

Both boys and girls had little figurines that were used to recreate the scenes. The girls had their favourite dolls: the ones from the wealthy home had well-made wax or clay dolls that moved their arms and legs; dolls for the lower layers were usually ragged. A type of volleyball was also played – pilae, which used hands and arms (usually protected against bruising).

Board games were popular – rages, where one of them was probably very similar to the current Scrabbles. A game similar to chess (latrunculi) was also played. The board was divided into squares, and small pieces called latrunculi or calculi were used, made of wood, stone or wax. The goal of the game was to capture the opponent’s pieces.

Sources
  • Winniczuk Lidia, Ludzie, zwyczaje i obyczaje starożytnej Grecji i Rzymu, PWN, Warszawa 1983

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