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The games commenced with a grand procession (Pompa Circensis), in which all those who were about to exhibit in the circus, as well as persons of distinction, bore a part. The statues of the gods formed the most conspicuous feature in the show, which were paraded upon wooden platforms, called fercula and thensae. (Suet. JuL 76.) The former ; were borne upon the shoulders, as the statues of saints are carried in modern processions (Cic. de Of. i. 36) ; the latter drawn along upon wheels, and hence the thensa which bore the statue of Jupiter is termed Jovis plaustrum by Tertullian (De Spectac. 7), and Atis oxf'S, by I)ion Cassius (p. 608). The former were for painted images, or those of light material ; the latter for the heavy statues. The whole procession is minutely described by Dionysius (vii. pp. 4579 458 ; comp. Ovid, Amor. iii. 2. 43, &c.).
The usual number of chariots which started for each race was four. The drivers (cmrigae, agi-tatores) were also divided into four companies, each distinguished by a different colour, to represent the four seasons of the year, and called a factio (Festus, s.-v.} : thus fuctio prasina, the green, represented the spring, whence (Juv. Sat. xi. 196) " Eventum viridis quo colligo panni;" factio russata, red, the summer ; factio veneta, azure, the autumn ; and factio alba- or albata, white, the winter. (Tertull. de Spectac. 9 ; compare the- authorities quoted by Ruperti, ad Juv. vii. 112.) Originally there were but two factions, albata and russata (Tertull. I. c.), and consequently .only two chariots started at each race. Domitian subsequently increased the whole number to six, by the addition of two new factions, aurata and •purpurea (Suet, Dom. 7) ; but this appears to have been an exception to the usual practice, and not in general use. The driver stood in his car within the reins, which went round his back. This enabled him to throw all his weight against the horses, by leaning backwards ; but it greatly enhanced his danger in case of an upset, and caused the death of Hippolytus. (Enr. Hipp. 1230, ed. Monk ; compare Ovid, Met. xv. 524.) To avoid this peril a sort of knife or bill-hook was carried at the waist, for the purpose of cutting the reins in a case of emergency, as is seen in some of the ancient reliefs, and is more clearly illustrated in the annexed woodcut, copied from a fragment formerly belonging to the Villa Negroni, which also affords a specimen of the dress of an auriya. The torso only remains of this statue • but the head is supplied from another antique, representing an auriga, in the Villa Albani.
When all was ready, the doors of the carceres were flung open, and the chariots were formed abreast of the alba linea by men called morafores from their duty ; the signal for the start was then given by the person who presided at the games, sometimes by sound of trumpet (Ovid. Met. x. 652; Sidon. Carm. xxiii. 341), or more usually by letting fall a napkin (mappa, Suet. Nero, 22 ; Mart. Ep. xii. 29. 9), whence the Circensian games are called spectacula mappae. (Juv. Sat. xi. 191.) The origin of' this custom is founded on a story that Nero, while at dinner, hearing the shouts of the people who were clamorous for the course to begin, threw down his napkin as the signal. (Cas-
siodor. Var. Ep. iii. 51.) The alba linea was then cast off, and the race commenced, the extent of Avhich was seven times round the spina (Varro, ap. Gett. iii. 10), keeping it always on the left. (Ovid. Amor. iii. 2. 72 ; Sil. Ital. xvi. 362.) A course of seven circuits was termed umis missus, and twenty-five was the number of races ran in each day, the last of which was called missus acra-rius, because in early times the expense of it was defrayed by a collection of money (aes) made amongst the people. (Serv. ad Virg. Georg. iii. 18 ; compare Dion Cass. lix. p. 908.) Upon one occasion Domitian reduced the number of circuits from seven to five, in order to exhibit 100 missus in one day. (Suet. Dam. 4.) The victor descended from his car at the conclusion of the race, and ascended the spina, where he received his reward (bravium, from the Greek ftpage'tov, Paul. 1 Corinth, ix. 24), which consisted in a considerable sum of money (Juv. Sat. vii. 113, 114, 243; Suet. Claud. 21), which accounts for the great wealth of the charioteers to which Juvenal alludes, and the truth of which is testified by many sepulchral inscriptions.
A single horseman, answering to the /ceA^s of the Greeks, attended each chariot, the object of which seems to have been twofold ; to assist his companion by urging on the horses, when his hands were occupied in managing the reins, and, if necessary, to ride forward and clear the course, as seen in the cut from the British Museum representing the metae, which duty Cassioclorus (Var. Ep. iii. 51) assigns to him, with the title of equus desultorius. Other writers apply that term to those who practised feats of horsemanship in the circus, leaping from one to another when at their speed. (Compare Suet. Jul. 39 ; Cic. Pro Muren. 27 ; Dionys. p. 462 ; Panvin. De Lud. -Circens. i. 9.) In other respects, the horse-racing followed the same rules as the chariots.
The enthusiasm of the Romans for these races exceeded all bounds. Lists of the horses (libelti), with their names and colours, and those of the drivers, were handed about, and heavy bets made upon each faction (Ovid, Art. Amat. i. 167, 168 ; Juv. Sat. xi. 200; Mart. Ep. xi. 1. 15) ; and some-