Roman Entertainment

By: Alex Denton

Getting started

At first, the games in the early Roman Empire were mostly circulating around their religion, but later in games they were purely for entertainment, some lasting a long time. There were two kinds of games: ludi scaenici and ludi circenses.

Theatrical festivals

The ludi scaenici which were the theatrical performances, were very much overcome by the circus games. There were far fewer festivals that saw theatre plays than circus games. The performance written by Terence throughout 185-159 BC was a festival held in honor of the deceased Lucius Aemilius Paulus in 160 BC. Later Terence's comedy The mother in law was performed, and all seemed to go well until all of the sudden someone in the audience shouted out that the the gladiatorial fights were about to begin. After a few minutes his Terence's audience had vanished.

Chariot racing

Roman people had a passion that ran very high when it came to chariot racing, and they also liked to support a certain color team, - white, green, red or blue. Though some of the people could get out of hand which would lead to violent outbreaks, and clashes between opposing supporters. There was four different parties (factiones) to support; the red (russata), the green (prasina), the white (albata) and the blue (veneta).

The chariots built to be as light as possible for speed, and were drawn by teams of two, four or sometimes even more horses. The larger the teams of horses, the greater the expertise of the driver needed to be.

Chariot Race at the Hippodrome

Chariot racing continued

The full length of one of these races consisted of about 7 laps around the stadium of close to around 4000 meters. Each race included multiple tight turns, battling for first place, and fights breaking out between chariots. There were also substantially no rules that were asked of the gladiators. If they were skilled drivers they knew what they were doing most of the time, and there weren't problems with not having rules.

Gladiatorial fighting

In this time period along with the most barbaric types of entertainment which mostly included the games that were gladiatorial. Gladiatorial events included none other than mostly big strong angry men who found pleasure in fighting other men to the death. Most people found entertainment watching these men fight each other, and for the cost of what? There was not a price for townspeople to come and watch these fights, because it wasn't a luxury for the people but it was a right that they had to come and watch people get beat up to the death.

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Gladiatorial fighting continued

There were also games played within the game itself. It was just as if people went to watch men okay soccer or baseball, but with a twist. Instead of watching one or the other the people were watching men fight each other to the death while playing some form of a modern day sport that we know to this day. Although these fights seemed to only be for entertainment purposes, they were also for ceremonial purposes as well. They were sacred for people that had been lost in the past that they were remembering, and fighting for once again.

Athletic games and events

Back in this time period only the men were allowed to participate in these sporting events. A list of the games, and events were played in this ancient period included Boxing, Chariot racing, horseback Riding, Pankration, Pentathlon, Running, Wrestling, Running, and Wrestling. Most of these events are still common today. As for Pankration it was an event that was a combination of boxing and wrestling.