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Roman Games and their Role in Ancient Rome - Research Paper Example

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Your Name Prof’s Name Date Games in Ancient Rome Rome holds a special place in the imagination of many people. It was one of the largest empires that ever existed, and ruled relatively peaceably for centuries (Latham 317) and acted as a republic for a brief period of time (317) before eventually flaming out and dissolving in a slow burning cataclysm…
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Roman Games and their Role in Ancient Rome
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Download file to see previous pages While the different types of games including horse racing, gladiatorial combat and so on, all emerged from different origins, each had two important functions: to provide entertainment and titillation to the population, keeping them happy to be part of the Pax Romana and establishing aspects of Roman culture and rule across the breadth of the giant Empire, and as a commercial venture for those involved. There were two major types of games held during the Roman era: chariot racing and gladiatorial combat. Both were immensely popular, but chariot racing was one somewhat more common than gladiatorial games (Romano 387), partly because of the cost of the gladiatorial games, which could often end with an incredibly expensive and well trained slave being wounded or even killed. It is estimated that at their height, there were twenty-four races a day on sixty-six days of the year, meaning that races were relatively common but still rare enough to be of great entertainment value (Bennet 42). Chariot races would consist of several competitors racing in an oval around central pier in a building called a circus or, after the Greek fashion, a hippodrome. Roman chariot racing evolved from the Greek practice, which had been ongoing for centuries, with a recorded history dating back to the first Panhellenic games (Levick 117). Though the Roman one was probably adapted from the Etruscan adaption of Greek racing, it was also probably directly influenced by the Greek practice (Matz 33). While the evolution of Roman chariot racing evolved slowly over many centuries, and has distinctive origins that are somewhat difficult to trace, the origins of gladiatorial games, which involved two slaves fighting each other for public entertainment, are a bit clearer. It seems that it was an Etruscan religious practice amongst the wealthiest people in society to hold funerary games to send off the dead: perhaps to give them a companion to accompany them to the underworld (Minowa 89). These then began to be a part of traditional religious practices during the Roman ludi (games), which were massive week long festivals that would also include dramatic performances, religious festivities honoring Jupiter, music, and other activities (including chariot racing) (Plecket 160). Gladiatorial combats were also held by various wealthy and/or powerful Romans (people were rarely one without being the other) for various reasons, including celebrating an event like a military victory, ascension to a position and so on (Tataki 369). While the origins of both chariot racing and gladiatorial games are somewhat obscure and debated, their role in Roman society is relatively clear. The Roman state, and the people who ran it, saw games as part of their patrician obligation to their populace (Boatwright 190). They would keep the population happy and entertained as well as thankful to the Roman state. This was true of games that were held as a part of ludi, which also had religious significance, as well as one-off games that were often more explicitly designed for entertainment. Furthermore, amphitheaters and circi were often installed in smaller cities in Roman provinces, making their connection with the Roman state strong and centralizing the importance of Roman culture that might be quite distant from its centre, Rome (Carter 300). This all plays a central part of the Roman character, the idea ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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