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Ludi Taurii

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Ludi Taurii
Ludi Taurii

Ludi Taurii (also referred to as Ludi Taurei quinquennales, Ludi Taurei or Taurilia) can be translated as “games of the bulls” (taurus is otherwise “bull”). There is also a hypothesis that the name of the games comes from the Etruscan word tauru, meaning “tomb”. Games were held to celebrate the di inferi – gods of the underworld. The competition took place in the Circus of Flaminius and included, among others bullfighting, chariot racing (around metae) or sacrifice.

About ludi Taurii is mentioned, among others, by Festus and Servius, who believed that they were of Etruscan origin. Moreover, both claimed that the custom of organizing this holiday began during the reign of the king of Tarquinius the Proud – the last king of Rome. Titus Livius reported in turn that in 186 BCE. the discussed ludi lasted two days.

Originally, the Games did not have some sort of regular calendar cycle, but rather the form of religionis causa. Varro mentions that ludi of Taurii were present in the late republic. During the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161 CE) – from 140 to 160 – the Games were held every 5 years; hence the term Ludi Taurei quinquennales. Scientists suspect that information about the frequent celebration of these games during the reigns of August (27 BCE – 14 CE) and of Antoninus Pius was due to religious policies promoting the revival of the Roman faith.

In many places, you can find information that ludi Taurii took place on June 25-26. As it turns out, however, no ancient source strictly defines which days these games were held. Therefore, the date of June 25-26 can be considered unreliable.

Sources
  • Daremberg i Saglio, Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines, Paryż, 1877‑1919, tłum. William P. Thayer
  • William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic
  • John H. Humphrey, Roman Circuses: Arenas for Chariot Racing
  • Jaczynowska Maria, Religie świata rzymskiego, Warszawa 1987
  • Zieliński Tadeusz, Religia Rzeczypospolitej Rzymskiej

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