The Ancient Library

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On this page: Ciris – Cisium – Cithara




Domitian, but probably dropped out of use after his death. Towards the end of the 3rd century A.D. the White faction joined with the Green, and the Red with the Blue. Accordingly in the late Roman and Byzan­tine period we generally hear only of Blue and Green. It was the party feeliug thus engendered which was the mainspring of the passionate interest, often amounting almost to madness, which the people took in the games of the circus.

" VICTORIOUS AURIGA. (Sola delta biga. Vatican.)

The necessary attendants, the horses, and the general equipment of the games were provided, at the cost of the giver, by special companies, with one or more directors at their head. These companies were dis­tinguished by adopting the different colours of the factions. The drivers were mostly slaves, or persons of low position. The calling was looked down upon ; but at the same time a driver of exceptional skill would be extraordinarily popular. The vic­tors, besides their palms and crowns, often received considerable sums of money; and

thus it would often happen that a driver would rise to the position of a contractor, or become director of a company of con­tractors. Numerous monuments survive to commemorate their victories. Sometimes, indeed, a celebrated horse would have a monument put up to him.

A contest of riders, each with two horses, was often added to the chariot - races. These riders were called desultores, because they jumped from one horse to another while going at full gallop. The circus was also used for boxing-matches, wrestling-matches, and foot-racing; but during the imperial period separate buildings were usually appropriated to these amusements. Gladiatorial contests, and wild-beast hunts, were originally held in the circus, even after the building of the amphitheatre.

Besides these games, the circus was sometimes used for military reviews. The cavalry manoeuvres, for instance, of the six divisions of the knights (ludi sgvlrales), with their six leaders (sSviri), and an imperial prince as princeps iuventutis at their head, would occasionally be held there. Under the emperors of the Julian dynasty a favourite pastime was the Trout or Indus Troias. This consisted in a number of manoauvres performed by boys belonging to senatorial and other respect­able families. They rode on horseback in light armour in separate divisions, and were practised for the purpose by special trainers.

Ciris. See Nisus.

Clslum. See chariots.

CIthara (Kithara). A stringed instru­ment, invented (so the fable ran) by Apollo. The cithara was played on occasions of ceremony, such as public games and pro­cessions : the lyra, a smaller instrument

(1), (2) and (4) JTuero Borbonico, XIII xl, X vi, XII ixiv. (3) Welcker, Denkm. Ill 31.,

and easier to hold, was more commonly used in ordinary life. The Kithara consisted of a sounding board, which extended into two arms or side-pieces. The sounding-board,

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