The Roman Games or the Ludi Romani is a religious festival in ancient Rome. It was held annually since 366 BC, normally from September 12 to September 14, but is extended to September 5 to September 19. However, it eventually started on the 4th of September in honor of the murdered Julius Caesar. With this, each of the Romans has different perceptions about their games. They may perceive it as a way to honor their Gods, as a tribute to their leader, as a sacred activity, culture that they have inherited from their ancestors or as means of entertainment and a personal sport.
To illustrate, they perceived games as a way to honor their Gods. Even before the establishment of the Ludi Romani, these games were done in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus to whom the Romans consecrated a temple on the Capitol on the same day but was said to have been formally established by Tarquinius Priscus on his invasion of the Latin Apiolae. In addition, Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Cicero submit the establishment of the games to their triumph over the Latin at Lake Regillus.
During the ancient times, this event were not performed annually as the generals promised to pay the games if they were able to win a battle and granted a triumph or votive games. By 366 BC, however, the games had become an annual event, paid for by the state and supervised first by the consuls and eventually by the aediles. The said games then lasted only for a day but because of the continuous grueling events that have come to Rome, like the death of Julius Caesar, expulsion of the kings etc., the games prolonged until Cicero decided to formally establish the days the games are to be performed.
Second as a way to honoring their leaders. Romans think that when they completed this activity they are also helping themselves to honor their leaders. The Romans games are mostly dedicated to their former leader Julius Caesar. They believe that Julius Caesar have a big contribution to the Roman Society, therefore they establish an activity to honor their great leader. The Romans being artistic by nature, believed that doing such activities can help their leaders to be recognized in other countries.
Third, the Romans regard their games as a sacred activity for they think that when they perform in such a game, their gods will be pleased and in turn bless them either by a good harvest or a continuous downpour of wealth. They perform this as a means of sacrifice for them to be blessed. An example of which is when they were about to start the event, they parade their gods in a procession for their games to be blessed by their gods. Other Romans tend to participate in this activity because they wanted to strengthen their faith to their gods. The Romans believed that their games are sacred because they offer every game that they make to their gods and prepare a parade at the start of the event.
Fourth, the Roman considered their games as a culture that they have inherited from their ancestors. During the ancient times, the games began from a vow by the commander, and were celebrated as a special festival after his triumphal procession.
As the army used to go forth as a general rule each summer, it became customary that when it returned in autumn to celebrate such games, though connected with no triumph, and though no signal victory had been gained. But still in all cases they were celebrated as extraordinary games, and not as games regularly established by law.
They were sollemnes, “customary,” but had not yet become annui, “yearly” for we must remember that sollemnes need not mean anything more than customary. Before the games are considered as ludi magni which means that it originated in a vow but through the years, the Roman government changed it into a game done annually or ludi Romani as stated by Livy.
Fifth, Roman games were perceived as an entertainment. Roman games, being popular even before, became a source of entertainment for them. The Romans enjoyed watching gory battles as gladiators fight their way into survival. Some of the fights that were performed in the well-known Colosseum were either between gladiators, men and wild animals or just people being attacked and eaten by lions and other wild beasts. It is hard to imagine how the Romans enjoyed the show while their fellowmen suffer just to satisfy the king. The fight between gladiators is very tough, because the only way to win is to kill their opponent but when gladiators loss the fight their body will serve as a food to the wild animals.
Another sport that they enjoy watching was the chariot racing. The chariot races was the most popular spectator sport amongst the Ancient Romans and huge crowds of spectators would gather in the Circus Maximus to support and cheer on their favourite “colours”. Romans had probably inherited chariot racing from the Etruscans. A typical race lasted seven laps or about 5 miles and the competitors wore blue, green, red or white colors. Over time professional teams developed, identified by these colors. Roman charioteers, who started their careers as slaves, were called aurigae or agitatores. They would race chariots to become famous and earn enough money to buy their freedom.
Even though this event would promise them of freedom, it could also very dangerous to the horses and to the rider itself. Hence, it was fiercely contested. Some Romans bet whenever they cheer for their favorites just like a man gambling in a casino.
Lastly, The Romans view their games as a personal sport. The males exercised and practiced riding, wrestling, archery and swimming. Throwing and catching a ball high in the air was another popular game that they practiced. For them, these games would not only shape up their physical attributes but also discipline themselves into a better person. In the countryside, Roman men would have gone hunting and fishing as an alternative sport to train them into survival.
Roman games, in general, helped their republic to be known. It helped their country to be recognized in a way that will be benefit not only their government but also its citizens. It enabled other countries to learn more their culture. An example of which is on how the Roman people respect their gods, leaders and ancestors. They somehow influenced other countries to establish a day of activities for their fellow people to enjoy and be entertained. It also imbued a sense of chivalry in such a way the gladiators fought for freedom. Even though some of the underlying factors came into a positive note, there are also negative effects that lie within the said games. The inhumane nature of the Romans not only lead to there gracious victory during battle but also to their pitiful defeat. Today, Roman Government are not implementing the said games for it implies injustice not only in pursuing freedom but the most vital fact that they tend mislead is the importance of life.
“Roman Games” (2007). Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 26, 2007 from Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_games
“Roman Civilization” (2007) Roman History, Roman Civilization. Retrieved April 26, 2007 from website: http://abacus.bates.edu/~mimber/Rciv/ludi.htm
“Ancient Rome History Resource” (2001). Roman Games. Retrieved April 26, 2007 from website: http://www.hadrians.com/rome/romans/fun/roman_games.html
Haley, John D. Cruelty and Civilization: The Roman Games. Retrieved April 26, 2007 from website http://alamo.nmsu.edu/~jhaley/Auguet.htm