These games (the chief Roman festival)
were in honour of Jupiter (Festus, s. v. Magnos
), and are said to have been established by Tarquinius
Prisons on the occasion of his conquest of the Latin Apiolae (Liv. 1.35
) and Cicero (de
1.26, 55) refer the establishment to the victory over the
Latins at Lake Regillus. At first they lasted for one day only; a second day
was added on the expulsion of the kings in 509 B.C. (Dionys. A. R. 6.95
), a third after the
first secession, 494 B.C. (Liv. 6.42
). From the year 191 to 171 they lasted ten days
; Mommsen, Röm.
2.54), and shortly before Caesar's death they appear to
have been a fifteen-day festival (Cic. Ver.
), Sept. 5 to 19. After
Caesar's death a day was added (Cic. Phil.
): this day must have been
Sept. 4. For Cicero says (Verr.
2.52, 130) that there was an
interval of 45 days from the Ludi Romani to the Ludi Victoriae Sullanae on
Oct. 26. Accordingly, Sept. 19 in the time the Verrines were composed must
have been the last day of the Ludi Romani (C. I. L.
and so it appears in the Calendars of the Augustan time, the days of the
games being Sept. 4 to 19. There was the Epulum Jovis
13th, and the Equorum probatio
on the 14th. The
games in the circus lasted from the 15th to the 19th. In the Calendar of
Philocalus (354 A.D.
) they run from Sept. 12 to 15. The
celebration was in the hands at first of the consuls, afterwards of the
But we must not suppose that these games were regularly established as annual
from the beginning. Games, as we have seen, in many cases began from a vow
made by the commander, and were celebrated as a special festival after his
triumphal procession. As the army, however, used to go forth as a general
rule each summer, it became customary 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
“customary,” but had not yet become annui
( “sollemnes, deinde annui mansere ludi Romani
magnique varie appellati,”
); for we
must remember that sollemnes
need not mean anything
more than “customary.” Livy indeed in the passage quoted
identifies the two kinds, the ludi magni
the ludi Romani,
and so do Cicero
2.20, 35), Festus (l.c.
and Pseudo-Asconius (pp. 142-3, Or.); but in all his other books Livy
observes a distinction which has been pointed out by Ritschl (Parerga
&c. p. 290), that ludi
is the term applied to extraordinary games originating
in a vow (ludi votivi
), while ludi Romani
is that applied to the games when they
were regularly established as annual (ludi
). The latter term, i.e. ludi
is first used by Livy in 8.40, 2 (see Weissenborn ad loc.
); and after that the terms varied according
as the games are stati
(e.g. 10.47, 7; 25.2, 8)
(22.9, 10; 10, 7; 27.33, 8; 36.2, 2;
39.22, 2, &c.; Suet. Aug. 23
distinction drawn by Ritschl is to be considered proved. But when was the
fixed festival, the ludi Romani,
established as annual?
Most probably, says Mommsen (Röm. Forsch.
1.472), on the occasion of the first appointment of
the curule aediles in 367 B.C., who were to be the
curatores ludorum sollemnium
(Cic. Leg. 3.3
, 7). For in the
oldest Roman calendars which date from the time of the Decemvirs (cf.
Mommsen, Die röm. Chronologie,
&c. p. 30)
these festivals are not engraved in capitals but in small characters,
therefore are additions (C. I. L.
1.361) made after 449 B.C.; also in 322 B.C. the ludi Romani are
mentioned as a regular annual festival (Liv.
): accordingly the final
establishment of these games must lie between these dates; and the year 367
B.C., when so many changes were effected, and
when we are told a day was added to these games and curule aediles appointed
to superintend them, seems the most reasonable to assume.
Yet Livy and the other authors who identify the ludi magni and Romani are not
altogether in error: for the arrangement of the two kinds of games was
similar. An incidental proof of this is that when Pompeius established
in 70 B.C., they lasted for fifteen days (Cic.
Ver. 1.10, 31
), like the ludi
Romani; and we find similar sums, viz. 200,000 asses, bestowed for both ludi
magni and ludi Romani (Pseud.-Ascon. p. 142; Dionys. A. R. 7.71
). The actual ludi Romani consisted of first a
solemn procession, pompa
]: then a chariotrace, in
which each chariot in Homeric fashion carried a driver and a warrior, the
latter at the end of the race leaping out and running on foot (Dionys. A. R. 7.72
; and cf. Orelli, 2593,
where a charioteer is spoken of as pedibus ad
). This is a practice confined to the ludi Romani. In the
exhibitions of riding, each rider had a second horse led by the hand
(Festus, s. v. Paribus Equis
), as it appears the Roman
horsemen in early times were in the habit of using two horses in battle (cf.
Gran. Licinian. lib. xxvi.), like the Tarentini in Greek warfare (Liv. 35.28
riders were called desultores
Originally, in all probability, there was only one contest of each kind, and
only two competitors in each contest (Liv. 44.9
), as “may be inferred from the
circumstance that at all periods in the Roman chariot-race only as many
chariots competed as there were so-called factions; and of these there
were originally only two, the white and the red” (Mommsen,
1.236, note). These few events allowed further
minor exhibitions, such as boxers, dancers, competition in youthful
horsemanship (ludus Trojae
), &c. It was
allowed that the wreath the victor won (for this in Greek style was the meed
of victory) should be put on his bier when dead (Twelve Tables, 10, 7, and
Mommsen's remarks, Staatsrecht,
note 2). During the festival, too, the successful warrior in real warfare
wore the spoils he had won from the enemy, and was crowned with a chaplet.
After the introduction [p. 2.92]
of the drama in 364, plays
were acted at the ludi Romani, and in 214 B.C. we know that ludi scenici
took up four days of the festival
In 161 B.C. the Phormio
of Terence was acted at
(The chief work on the ludi Romani is Mommsen's article Die ludi magni
in his Römische Forschungen,
2.42-57 = Rheinisches Museum,
14.79-87. Compare also his
1.235-237 (where the Greek influences on
the Roman games are traced), 472, 473; and Friedländer in