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138

CIRCUS.

to the seats, the number of which amounted, in C?esar's time, to 150,000, and in the 4th century, after the building had been repeatedly enlarged, to 385,000. The podium, or lowest row of seats running immediately above the race-course, was pro­tected from the wild animals by a railing and a trench (euripus) ten feet in width and depth. This trench was, however, filled up at the command of Nero. The end of the circus, at which were the gate of entrance and the partitions in which the chariots stood, was flanked by two towers (oppida) occupied by bands of music. Between these was the loggia of the pre­siding magistrate. The opposite end of the building was semicircular, and had a gate called the porta triumphaVls, which seems to have been used only on extra­ordinary occasions. The senators and equltes had separate places allotted them, as in the theatre. The seats assigned to the common people were divided according to tribes, and the sexes were not separated. The eight or twelve openings (carc.Sres) from which the chariots issued lay, as we have already mentioned, at both sides of the entrance, and were closed with bars They were arranged in slanting lines, so that the distance from the carceres to the starting-point was equalized for all. The starting-point was marked by three conical pillars (metce), standing on a substructure. Three other similar metce, corresponding to them, stood at the other or semicircular end of the circus. Between the two points where the metce stood was built a low wall (spina), extending through the whole length of the course. On this there used to stand the mast of a ship, which, after Augustus' time, gave place to an obelisk. The spina was adorned with pillars, little shrines, and i statues of the gods, especially of Victory. I A second and loftier obelisk was added by I Constantine. The obelisk of Augustus now stands in the Piazza del Popolo, that of ! Constantine on the square in front of the Lateran. There was also an elevated substructure, supporting seven sculptured dolphins spouting water, and a pedestal with seven egg-shaped objects upon it, the use of which will be explained below.

The games were generally opened by a solemn procession from the Capitol through the forum to the circus, and through the whole length of the circus round the spina. At the head of the procession came the giver of the games, sitting on a car of triumph in triumphal costume. He was

followed by the images of the gods borne on litters or carriages, and escorted by the collegia and priestly corporations. In the imperial age the procession included the images of the deceased emperors and empresses, to whom divine honours were paid. The procession moved through the entrance, while the crowd rose up, cheered, and clapped their hands. The president dropped a white handkerchief into the ! arena, and the race began. Four, some-[ times as many as six, chariots drove out from behind the barriers at the right hand of the spina. Then they rushed along the I spina as far as the further posts, rounded these, and drove back down the left side to the starting-posts. They made the circuit seven times, and finally drove off the course through the barriers on the left of the spina. Seven circuits constituted one heat, or missus. A chalk line was drawn across the ground near the entrance, and the victory was adjudged to the driver who first crossed it. During the republican period the number of missus or heats amounted to ten or twelve, and after the time of Caligula to twenty-four, taking up the whole day.

To keep the spectators constantly in­formed how many of the seven heats had been run, one of the egg-shaped signals, mentioned above, was taken down after each heat, and probably also one of the dolphins was turned round. The chariots had two wheels, were very small and light, and were open behind. The team usually con­sisted either of two (bigot) or of four horses (quadriga;). In tho latter case the two middle horses only were yoked together. The driver (auriga or agitator, fig. 2) stood in his chariot, dressed in a sleeveless tunic strapped round the upper part of his body, a helmet-shaped cap on his head, a whip in his hand, and a knife with a semi-circular blade in his girdle, to cut the reins with in case of need, for the reins were usually attached to his girdle. The main danger lay in turning round the pillars. To come into collision with them was fatal, not only to the driver himself, but to the driver immediately behind him. The chariots, and probably also the tunics and equipments of the drivers, were decked with the colours of the different factions, as they were called. Of these there were originally only two, the White and the Red. At the beginning of the imperial period we hear of two more, the Green and the Blue. Two more, Gold and Purple, were introduced by

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