Main Functions of the Games in Ancient Rome

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Main Functions of the Games in Ancient Rome The 2 main kinds of games that took place in ancient Rome were those of ludi scaenici (theatre and plays) and those of ludi circenses (sports). This evaluation of Roman games will concentrate on the sports side of Roman entertainment due to their much higher popularity i.e. chariot racing and the gladiators. Chariot racing is one of the oldest spectator sports in Rome dating back to at least 6BC. The races started to celebrate religious festivals, the very first recorded one was the festival of to consus, this festival known as the Consualia was celebrated on the 21st August in Rome, which happened to be the local Derby Day, the main event of the racing calendar. The underground granary where the shrine to Consus where the opening sacrifices took place was located in the center of the Circus Maximus where the racing took place. Like racing, gladiators probably originated as funeral games, with religious significance attached to what in affect was the ritual sacrifice of the gladiators themselves. The first recorded gladiator fight was in 264BC, when 3 pairs of gladiators fought to the death during the funeral of Junius Brutus. The gladiator fights were known as munera as they were originally 'duties' paid to dead ancestors. They gradually lost their connection to funerals under the Roman Empire and became an important stage for emperors and leaders to put on spectacles for their own reasons. The games in ancient Rome have a long and colorful history, and were an incredibly large part of the culture of the great empire. For the purposes of this essay, 3 main functions of the games w... ... middle of paper ... ... the games could be effective by proving the armies absolute power and to divert political opinions. Quote (p 169)' [A]ttendance at munera subjected emperors to pressure from the people, rather than diverting potential expressions of political will in other directions.' This book explains how Tiberius tried to keep away from the games to escape the pressures, but it was so unpopular that later Emperors didn't make the same mistake. Quote (p 169)' When an emperor was at Rome, then his personal presence at munera was expected. An emperor who was unpopular might be criticized either for being too interested in these games, or not interested enough: the tightrope which each emperor had to walk was a necessary consequence of the ambiguous position of the emperor as both autocrat and servant of the Roman people. . . .'
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