Thursday, September 19, 2019
The World of Chariots :: essays research papers
The World of Chariots Chariot Racing, popular public game in the classical world of ancient Greece and Rome, in which horses pulled a two-wheeled chariot, or small cart, driven by a charioteer. Often the chariot driver stood in the chariot, rather than sitting. A chariot driver cracks his whip to encourage his horses. Chariot racing was a popular pastime in ancient Greece and Rome and was recorded as an event in the ancient Olympic Games. At the ancient Olympic Games, which began in 776 bc, the chariot race was often the first and most spectacular of the events. The course consisted of 12 double laps, nearly 14 km (9 mi) in all. The most important race was for teams of four horses controlled by one driver. The owners of these teams were nobles, and the victory wreaths were awarded to the owners. By the early 7th century bc there were also professional charioteers from the lower classes. Greek chariots were light, two-wheeled vehicles driven with the driver standing up. Accidents were frequent, and emotions often reached a high pitch. Greek lyric poet Pindar, who sometimes wrote victory odes for the owners of winning teams, tells of one race in which 40 teams were entered but only one finished. Chariot racing was a popular theme in Greek art, appearing in sculpture, vase painting, and engravings on coins. Chariot racing in the Roman Empire was significantly different than it had been under the Greeks. Racing stables were distinguished by the color that their drivers and horses wore. Red and white were the older colors, but green and blue gradually eclipsed them, eventually overtaking them entirely. Interest in chariot racing centered on the victory of the color rather than on the skill of the driver or the quality of the horses. Political and even religious importance came to be attached to the colors. Chariot drivers were commoners, freedmen, or slaves who had been professionally trained from boyhood. If successful, their prestige and earnings were tremendous; unlike the Greeks, the Romans regularly awarded monetary prizes. Roman satirical poet Juvenal remarked that a certain charioteer earned a hundred times the salary of a lawyer. Honorary inscriptions in stone recorded many interesting facts about both drivers and horses. The most prized horses came from Libya, Sicily, Spain, Thessaly, Armenia, Parthia, and Cappadocia. A team of four horses controlled by one driver was the most common, although races were run with teams of as many as ten or as few as two horses.