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Naumachia – with ship in center of Rome…

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Graphics showing naumachia
Graphics showing naumachia

Naumachia, in Greece, a real naval battle, in Rome – the most spectacular and costly set of spectacles of the time, recreating historical naval battles, during which the combatants they died among themselves.

The event required extraordinary organization, logistics and technology, because in the centre of a huge, densely populated city, huge ships with two, three and four rows of oars were displayed. Despite all efforts to be cautious, people were trampled, whose curiosity attracted enormous numbers to the city.

The first to organize such a “super-production” was Julius Caesar (2,000 sailors and 1,000 gladiators). Then Augustus presented his version of the ramming and boarding techniques, involving 3,000 people. gladiators with 30 ships (reconstruction of the battle of Salamis).

The next editor was Emperor Claudius, organizing the naumachia on Fucine Lake, attended by as many as 19,000. convicts at about 50 three-row ships. It was during this show that the gladiators were to say to the ruler: Hail, Caesar! those about to die salute thee (Suetonius, Divine Claudius, 21).

Then Nero, Titus, and also Domitian, who decided to play one of the sea battles in the Colosseum itself, flooding its arena. For subsequent marine productions, he built a separate swimming pool, enclosing it with porticoes for the audience.

Author: Waldemar Owczarczak (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)
  • Dariusz Słapek, Sport i widowiska w świecie antycznym, Wydawnictwo UW Homini, 2010

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