The Ancient Library
 

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CIRCUS.

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CIRCUS.

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terruption to the uniform line of seats (C), be­tokening also, from its construction, a place of distinction; which might have been assigned to the person at whose expense the games were given (editor spectaculorum).

In the centre of the area was a low wall (D)

O

D

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running lengthways down the course, which, from its resemblance to the position of the dorsal bone in the human frame, was termed spina. (Cas-siodor. Var. Ep. iii. 51.) It is represented in the wood-cut subjoined, taken from an ancient bas-relief.

At each extremity of the spina were placed, upon a base (E, E)? three wooden cylinders, of a conical shape, like cypress trees (nietasque imitata eitpressitS) Ovid, Met. x. 106; compare Plin. II. N. xvi. 60), which were called metaethe goals. Their situation is distinctly seen in. the preceding-woodcut, but their form is more fully developed in the one annexed, copied from a marble in the British Museum.

The most remarkable object upon t\\e spina were two columns (F) supporting seven conical balls, •which, from their resemblance to eggs, were called ova. (Vair. DeRe Riist. i. "2. §11; Liv. xli. 27.) These are seen in the woodcut representing the

spina. Their use was to enable the spectators to count the number of rounds which had been run; for which purpose they are said to have been first introduced by Agrippa (Dion Cass. xlix. p. 600), though Livy (xli. 27) speaks of them long before. They are, therefore, seven in number, such being the number of the circuits made in each race; and as each round was run, one of the ova was put up (Cassiodor. Var. Ep. iii. 51) or taken down, ac­cording to Varro (De Re Rust. i. 2. § 11). An egg was adopted for this purpose, in honour of Castor and Pollux. (Tertull. De Spectac. c. 8.) At the other extremity of the spina were two similar columns (G), represented also in the woodcut, over the second chariot, sustaining seven dolphins, termed delpJiinae, or delpliinarum columnae (Juv. Sat. vi. 590), which do not appear to have been intended to be removed, but only placed there as corresponding ornaments to the ova *; and the figure of the dolphin was selected in honour of Neptune. (Tertull. I. c.) Some writers suppose the columns which supported the ova and delphinae to be the plialae or fidae, which Juvenal men­tions (I. g.}. But the pJialae were not columns, biit towers, erected as circumstances required, be­tween the metae and euripus., or extreme circuit of the area, when sham-fights were represented in the circus. (Compare Festus, s. v. Plialae ; Serv. ad Virg. Aen. ix. 705.) Besides these, the spina was decorated with many other objects, such as obe-

* In the Lyons mosaic, subsequently noticed in the text, the delphinae are represented as fountains spouting water ; but in a bas-relief of the Palazzo Barberini (Fabretti, Syntagm. de Column. Trajani^ p. 144), a ladder is placed against the columns which support the dolphins, apparently for the pur­pose of ascending to take them up and down.

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