The Circus Maximus

The Circus Maximus : The History and Legacy of the Largest Stadium in Ancient Rome

3.47 (17 ratings by Goodreads)

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*Includes pictures
*Includes ancient accounts of the Circus Maximus
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
"Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city." In that short line, Anatole Broyard, a 20th century American writer, compactly captures the timeless and enchanting beauty that resides within the Eternal City of Rome. This tourist destination is often one of the highest ranked on bucket lists, for how could one not want to experience its marvelous ruins, mirror-like rivers, and spectacular stretches of aqueducts firsthand? As one sips on fine Italian wine on a terrace overlooking the grand remnants of the Colosseum, one can practically hear the roars of the battling gladiators and the raucous applause of the spectators. And as one strolls through the coarse, yet quaint cobblestone streets, one can almost hear the galloping horses and screeching wheels of chariots in the distance, and even feel the brush of the breeze as they charge past. It is difficult not to fall in love with a city so effortlessly nostalgic it verges on utopian.
The ambitious and fearless emperors that built the legendary Roman Empire from scratch, the broad-shouldered and bronzed gladiators with their iconic plume helmets and glinting swords, and elaborate parties attended by toga-wearing Romans fueled by alcohol, violence, orgies, and other godless acts all paint a picture of Roman life.
Indeed, many people are well-versed with these unique scenes of Roman history, and Ben-Hur helped popularize people's views of what went on at Rome's largest stadium. While the characters of Judah Ben-Hur and Messala were fictitious figures drawn from the imagination of novelist Lew Wallace, the setting of the rivals' classic confrontation, the fabled Circus Maximus, is very much real.
At the Circus Maximus, the guttural cheers of the spectators reverberated across the enormous open space, but their cries could hardly be heard over the rumble of the ground. On the ellipse-shaped track, 5 charioteers would skew their bodies and steer their magnificent vehicles around the curves. Gusts of sand and dirt flew up from the whizzing wheels and encircled the pounding hooves of the stunning stallions. Distracted personnel and guards dragging their feet were considered fair game. As one chariot careened to the side, preparing to collide with another chariot, a row of guards might have to try to duck out of the way in the nick of time. Some would be trampled by hooves.
Chariot races were dangerous for participants too. A charioteer could become disoriented and fail to position himself as his horses moved instinctively, sending his body catapulting forward out of the chariot. Needless to say, chariot racing in Rome was a nail-biting spectacle.
The Circus Maximus: The History and Legacy of the Largest Stadium in Ancient Rome explores the development, as well as the origins and legends surrounding the stadium. It also dissects the historic sport and the Circus stars, as well as the most momentous events ever to have transpired in this fantastic place. Along with pictures depicting important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Circus Maximus like never before.
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17 ratings
3.47 out of 5 stars
5 12% (2)
4 35% (6)
3 41% (7)
2 12% (2)
1 0% (0)
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