Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > Ancient History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Ancient History Ancient History Forum - Greece, Rome, Carthage, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and all other civilizations of antiquity, to include Prehistory and Archaeology discussions


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old January 11th, 2018, 05:36 AM   #1
Citizen
 
Joined: Dec 2017
From: Netherlands
Posts: 6
Did the Romans make their chariot races more dangerous?


I've learned that, during Roman chariot races, there were these dangerous spiky 'spinae' placed on the track, for the charioteers to crash into . The Greeks didn't have these deadly elements on their track. Can we conclude from this that the Romans made their chariot races deliberately more dangerous and lethal than their Greek counterparts?

During Roman times, there were perhaps more additions like these, as an addition to Greek traditions, to purposely make a sport or event more dangerous, and therefore more "enjoyable" for the people. If so, who could name one of those cultural differences? For instance, on average, in each Roman gladiator show half of the contestants were killed. Were these high percentages the same as in Ancient Greece?

Last edited by Vark; January 11th, 2018 at 06:53 AM.
Vark is offline  
Remove Ads
Old January 11th, 2018, 07:30 AM   #2

Matthew Amt's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2015
From: MD, USA
Posts: 2,290

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vark View Post
I've learned that, during Roman chariot races, there were these dangerous spiky 'spinae' placed on the track, for the charioteers to crash into . The Greeks didn't have these deadly elements on their track. Can we conclude from this that the Romans made their chariot races deliberately more dangerous and lethal than their Greek counterparts?
Um, do you mean the spina that ran down the center of any "circus"? It's the "traffic island" down the middle, and the race goes around it.

Click the image to open in full size.

Yeah, it's got monuments and spiky things on it, but the racers go *around* it. Though yes, running into it would be bad, and races were certainly dangerous overall. What makes you think they would deliberately add lethal obstacles?

Quote:
During Roman times, there were perhaps more additions like these, as an addition to Greek traditions, to purposely make a sport or event more dangerous, and therefore more "enjoyable" for the people. If so, who could name one of those cultural differences? For instance, on average, in each Roman gladiator show half of the contestants were killed. Were these high percentages the same as in Ancient Greece?
I think you're a victim of too many modern "EXXXXTRRREEEEEEEEMMM" competition shows. Most gladiator bouts were NOT fought to the death, and while the Romans certainly loved a good spectacle and there was always a degree of one-upmanship, they didn't have to add gasoline explosions to everything just to keep the kids from claiming boredom.

Matthew
Matthew Amt is offline  
Old January 11th, 2018, 03:34 PM   #3
Citizen
 
Joined: Dec 2017
From: Netherlands
Posts: 6

@Matthew Amt

Let me quote Wikipedia (Quote: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chariot_racing):

The Romans used a series of gates known as carceres, an equivalent to the Greek hysplex. These were staggered in the same way as the hysplex, but they were slightly different because Roman racing tracks also had a median (the spina) in the centre of the track

Once the race had begun, the chariots could move in front of each other in an attempt to cause their opponents to crash into the spinae (singular spina). On the top of the spinae stood small tables or frames supported on pillars, and also small pieces of marble in the shape of eggs or dolphins.[33][35] The spina eventually became very elaborate, with statues and obelisks and other forms of art, but the multiplication of the adornments of the spina had one unfortunate result: They became so numerous that they obstructed the view of spectators on lower seats


I know that Wikipedia is not always 100% accurate, but are you telling me that this information is false?

About this "fighting to the death" part, lots of sources on the web are providing lots of percentages, some even say only 10% died, but my source was Craig G. Benjamin (Professor of History Grand Valley State University) who said it was 50%. A credible source, I'd say. Where did you get your information from?
Vark is offline  
Old January 11th, 2018, 04:31 PM   #4

Matthew Amt's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2015
From: MD, USA
Posts: 2,290

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vark View Post
@Matthew Amt

Let me quote Wikipedia (Quote: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chariot_racing):

The Romans used a series of gates known as carceres, an equivalent to the Greek hysplex. These were staggered in the same way as the hysplex, but they were slightly different because Roman racing tracks also had a median (the spina) in the centre of the track

Once the race had begun, the chariots could move in front of each other in an attempt to cause their opponents to crash into the spinae (singular spina). On the top of the spinae stood small tables or frames supported on pillars, and also small pieces of marble in the shape of eggs or dolphins.[33][35] The spina eventually became very elaborate, with statues and obelisks and other forms of art, but the multiplication of the adornments of the spina had one unfortunate result: They became so numerous that they obstructed the view of spectators on lower seats


I know that Wikipedia is not always 100% accurate, but are you telling me that this information is false?
I don't know about Greek practices, but otherwise that is completely correct. The spina is the "island" down the middle of the arena, and the chariots go *around* it. Did you look at that image I posted? Yes, the charioteers will try to force each other off the course, either outwards into the wall between track and spectators, or inwards into the spina. The spina is no more there for the *purpose* of wrecking chariots than the median strip on a modern highway is designed to wreck all the cars travelling along it!

Modern racetracks go around a central "infield", too, it's just a wider version of the spina. It's just what you race around, it's not an added hazard. In fact, I suspect the Romans added the spina for *safety*, to avoid chariots running head-on into each other!

Google up the chariot race in the old "Ben Hur" with Charleton Heston (not that new atrocity), it's an excellent illustration of a race around the spina.

Quote:
About this "fighting to the death" part, lots of sources on the web are providing lots of percentages, some even say only 10% died, but my source was Craig G. Benjamin (Professor of History Grand Valley State University) who said it was 50%. A credible source, I'd say. Where did you get your information from?
If he's claiming that one fighter in every gladiator bout was killed, that flatly contradicts EVERY source I've read or heard. Sorry, I don't have a bibliography to quote, it just isn't my subject. Every PhD I've ever known has been wrong at least once, whether they're credible or not. Not a big deal, no one can know everything. If you want to assume all the other sources are wrong, well, why should you listen to me? There are plenty of Roman authors who discuss gladiator fights, should be easy enough to find one that says half of them died, if that's the case.

Matthew
Matthew Amt is offline  
Old January 11th, 2018, 07:47 PM   #5
AwP
Citizen
 
Joined: Aug 2017
From: USA
Posts: 4

Keep in mind that quite a few gladaitorial events were actually just the execution of criminals. So while professional gladiators rarely died in a match, the overall death toll could be pretty high if there were a lot of executions scheduled for that week.
AwP is offline  
Old January 12th, 2018, 01:39 AM   #6

johnincornwall's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Nov 2010
From: Cornwall
Posts: 6,147

It was that nasty Stephen Boyd in 'Ben Hur'.
johnincornwall is offline  
Old January 12th, 2018, 05:58 AM   #7
Citizen
 
Joined: Dec 2017
From: Netherlands
Posts: 6

@Matthew Amt: Good point! I guess 50% is a bit too much (or he included the scheduled executions, as @AwP mentioned).

I'm going to watch the new Ben Hur movie tomorrow by the way. Have you seen it?
Vark is offline  
Old January 12th, 2018, 07:07 AM   #8

Matthew Amt's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2015
From: MD, USA
Posts: 2,290

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vark View Post
I'm going to watch the new Ben Hur movie tomorrow by the way. Have you seen it?
Nope. From all I've heard, it's a total loss. Granted, it's possible a lot of the bad press is just because of the arrogance of trying to remake a movie like that! I vaguely recall seeing a clip or two that just hurt to watch, though.

Try Wonder Woman instead!

Matthew
Matthew Amt is offline  
Old January 12th, 2018, 11:09 AM   #9
Archivist
 
Joined: Apr 2012
From: Iowa, USA
Posts: 223

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Amt View Post
Nope. From all I've heard, it's a total loss. Granted, it's possible a lot of the bad press is just because of the arrogance of trying to remake a movie like that! I vaguely recall seeing a clip or two that just hurt to watch, though.

Try Wonder Woman instead!

Matthew
Check out Much better than the Heston race. In my opinion.
dvch is offline  
Old January 12th, 2018, 02:18 PM   #10
Lecturer
 
Joined: Oct 2015
From: Virginia
Posts: 458

Several horses and (supposedly) a stuntman were killed in filming the 1925 chariot race. Clark Gable, Carol Lombard, John Gilbert, John and Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Gary Cooper and Myrna Loy (anybody know who they were?) are said to have been uncredited extras.

Last edited by Dentatus; January 12th, 2018 at 02:38 PM.
Dentatus is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > Ancient History

Tags
chariot, dangerous, races, roman, romans



Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The internet has made the world a more dangerous place Naomasa298 Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology 26 September 25th, 2016 07:59 PM
Decline and Fall of the War Chariot DIVUS IVLIVS Ancient History 44 January 20th, 2014 08:51 AM
Chariot tactics in the Isles okamido Ancient History 3 May 6th, 2012 01:13 PM
The Chariot CelticBard Ancient History 25 September 30th, 2007 10:24 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.