DEDICATED TO THE APPRECIATION OF SPORTS IN THE ANCIENT ROME
WELCOME TO SPORTS IN ANTIQUITY
SportsInAntiquity.com contains essays, articles, book reviews and short stories about sport in antiquity with an in-depth study of Chariot Racing and references to modern day real and fantasy sports. If you are a sport's fan or are interested in Roman history, this site is for you. If you play fantasy sports, you will enjoy reading about ancient Romans playing their version of fantasy baseball. Some articles are historical facts, some are short fiction. New articles are posted once or twice a month. If you are new to the site, scroll down and begin with the earliest post.
You have to know the past to understand the present
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Review of Alan Cameron's Bread and Circuses
Lecture given at King's College in 1973
Posted on: 11/13/2017
How historically accurate is the chariot race in the movie Ben-Hur, 2016 version
Yes, rules existed and, No, crashes were not encouraged
Posted on: 8/02/2016
Posted on: 6/17/2015
In-depth analysis of the job duties of sparsores
Posted on: 3/26/2015
Sport in the first millenuim of the Western civilization
Posted on: 11/11/2014
The author asks a valid question: "can gladiatorial combats be considered sport?"
Pictures of its accurate model of a circus and of the famous and magnificent Barcelona mosaic depicting chariot racing
Posted on: 10/20/2014
The circus of Milano, Italy and its well-preserved carceres tower
Posted on: 8/14/2014
Pictures of what little remains today of the great hippodrome of Byzantium
Posted on: 8/4/2014
In April of 2014 I took a three-month sabbatical to visit hippodromes, arenas and antiquity museums in the Mediterranean world. The first four essays posted after July 2014 are the results of my travels.
Posted on: 4/15/2014
The original article by Rawson was published by Papers of the British School at Rome in 1981
Posted on: 2/18/2014
In the eyes of the Romans some chariot races were more prized than others; a first-ever study of race ranks and preferences
M N F
Posted on: 1/11/2014
Were the chariot races religious in origin, were they an extension of the practices of the Etruscans and the Greeks, were the races held at the Colosseum?
Posted on: 12/17/2013
A survey of ball games played in ancient Rome, Part 2: Trigon, Datatim, Raptim and Expulsim Ludere
Posted on: 11/14/2013
A survey of ball games played in ancient Rome, Part 1: Harpastum
Posted on: 9/26/2013
Book review: THE ROMAN WAY by Edith Hamilton and ROMAN PASSIONS by Ray Laurence
Posted on: 9/20/2013
Book review: LIFE, DEATH and ENTERTAINMENT IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE Edited by D.S. Potter & D.J. Mattingly
Posted on: 8/26/2013
Did Romans play fantasy games? Decide by yourself after you read this article
Posted on: 7/14/2013
Book synopses and unsurprising and anticipated parallels with today's customs
Posted on: 6/13/2013
A short fictional story about Diocles the Charioteer, Part 4: Diocles arrives
Posted on: 6/3/2013
A short fictional story about Diocles the Charioteer, Part 3: Bassus' team is in the lead
Posted on: 5/4/2013
A short fictional story about Diocles the Charioteer, Part 2: The First Race
Posted on: 5/20/2013
A short fictional story about Diocles the Charioteer, Part 1: At the Tavern
ABOUT THIS WEB SITE
Of the many daily distractions and diversions, Romans derived most pleasure out of their passion for the immensely popular sport of chariot racing. However, sports in ancient Rome are an astonishingly under researched subject. Only a handful of ambitious historical studies claim that their field of research is related to the topic of sports. Alan Cameron in the preface to his “Circus Factions” lamented, “scholars essayed an interpretation [of circus factions] in social, religious and political terms rather than sporting terms.”
Could it be that scholars from high academia are disconnected from the world of those who they deem uneducated masses? We, "plebs sordida" spend our Sundays in front of TVs watching football games. Perhaps, sport is an undignified and frivolous topic not worthy of high academia.
Whatever the reasons, the intent of this web site is to do justice to the passion of the Romans for sports. You will be able to read and learn all about it and, with time, join a community of like-minded fans.
I want to enlist your help: if you have done any research on the topic and you want to share your findings, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your input to this site is welcome.
- John H. Humphrey, Roman Circuses, Arenas For Chariot Racing, University of California Press, 1986
[ rated the best book about sports in antiquity; check out my book review on www.amazon.com ]
- H.A. Harris, Sport in Greece and Rome, Cornell University Press, 1972
- A Companion to Sport and Spectacle in Greek and Roman Antiquity, edited by Paul Christesen (author) and Donald G. Kyle (author), Wiley-Blackwell, 2014 [a review is coming up shortly; in the meantime you can download a free 16-page long General Introduction from here: www.academia.edu
- Alan Cameron, Porphyrius The Charioteer, Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press, 1973
- Alan Cameron, Circus Factions, Blues and Greens at Rome and Byzantium, Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press, 1976 [ check out my book review on www.amazon.com]
- Richard Burgess, Description of the circus on the via Appia near Rome with some account of Circensian games, 1828, freely available on line at the Bodleian library
- Anne Mahoney, Roman Sports and Spectacles, A Sourcebook, Focus Publishing, R. Pullins Company,2001
Suggested web sites:
A well-researched and accurate description of chariot racing by Peter Donnelly
Selected essays about history and culture of Rome by James Grout
Livius.org, a scholarly site about ancient history, including Rome, by Jona Lendering.
[All web sites are cited with permission]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The reading habits of men follow three stages. Men begin their reading life with comic books, move on to fiction and later in life when they get curious about their place in this puzzling universe, they read history. I have reached this blessed third stage around 10 years ago. Since that first book, Life In Ancient Rome by F.R. Cowell ( Perigee Book, 1961 ) my principal interest has been the history of the Roman Empire, as you can probably guess.
I have lived in Italy, have studied Latin and have visited Rome on several occasions. You may say that I am naturally inclined to be interested in Rome in antiquity. That could be partially true.
Drawing parallels between the U.S and the Roman Empire is thought provoking and another possible reason for my enthusiasm about studying Rome in antiquity. A worthy topic, but, oh, so boring.
Roman Empire offers a unique opportunity to study a classical civilization as it evolved from birth, through rise and glory days, to the decline and ultimately, by closing the loop, to the fall and final demise. The multitude of evidence about the life in ancient Rome appears as scattered pieces of a large puzzle. Putting that puzzle together has fascinated a countless number of people over centuries. I am among them.
One specific aspect of the daily life in ancient Rome has captivated me: sports. Those pesky Romans were big sports fans. I am, too. I like soccer, baseball and by extension, fantasy baseball. My first fantasy baseball season was in 1992. Since then I have joined Mastersball.com, a fantasy baseball analysis site, as a staff member and contributor, Today I play at a quasi-expert level, modestly speaking, and have been quoted by USA Today during the draft seasons.
Studies of sports in antiquity and fantasy baseball have made my life richer, fuller and more valued. This web site is a marriage between my two passions.
Other writings by Pasko Varnica: