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LUDI ROMA´NI These games (the chief Roman festival) were in honour of Jupiter (Festus, s. v. Magnos Ludos), and are said to have been established by Tarquinius Prisons on the occasion of his conquest of the Latin Apiolae (Liv. 1.35, 9); though Dionysius (7.71) and Cicero (de Div. 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, 12). From the year 191 to 171 they lasted ten days (Liv. 36.2, 39.22, 1; Mommsen, Röm. Forsch. 2.54), and shortly before Caesar's death they appear to have been a fifteen-day festival (Cic. Ver. 1.10, 31), Sept. 5 to 19. After Caesar's death a day was added (Cic. Phil. 2.43, 110): 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. 1.401); 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 on the 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 curule aediles.

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 were sollemnes, “customary,” but had not yet become annui ( “sollemnes, deinde annui mansere ludi Romani magnique varie appellati,” Liv. 1.35, 9); 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 and the ludi Romani, and so do Cicero (Repub. 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 zu Plautus, &c. p. 290), that ludi magni 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 stati). The latter term, i.e. ludi Romani, 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) or votivi (22.9, 10; 10, 7; 27.33, 8; 36.2, 2; 39.22, 2, &c.; Suet. Aug. 23). The distinction drawn by Ritschl is to be considered proved. But when was the fixed festival, the ludi Romani, definitely established as annual?

Most probably, says Mommsen (Röm. Forsch. 2.53; cf. R. H. 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. 8.40, 2): 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 ludi votivi 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 [CIRCUS]: 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 quadrigam). 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, 8). Such riders were called desultores (Liv. 23.29, 5). Originally, in all probability, there was only one contest of each kind, and only two competitors in each contest (Liv. 44.9, 4), 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, R. H. 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, i.2 411, 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 (Liv. 24.43, 7). In 161 B.C. the Phormio of Terence was acted at these games.

(The chief work on the ludi Romani is Mommsen's article Die ludi magni und Romani in his Römische Forschungen, 2.42-57 = Rheinisches Museum, 14.79-87. Compare also his Roman History, 1.235-237 (where the Greek influences on the Roman games are traced), 472, 473; and Friedländer in Marquardt's Staatsverwaltung, 3.477, 478.)


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