Circus, Stadia and Entertainment

Chariot racing was Rome's oldest and most popular pastime, dating back to at least the Roman monarchy. Greek chariot races were held in hippodromes in the east, but in the west they were held in circuses. Other events eventually infiltrated the circus games (ludi circenses), such as Greek athletics and wrestling, but chariot racing remained the popular favorite. As a sport, it was highly expensive, but organized into a highly profitable business. There were four chariot facing factions, the blues, greens, whites, and reds, the colors of which were worn by respective charioteers during races. If successful, a charioteer could become rich and famous throughout Rome. Images of charioteers survive in sculpture, mosaic, and molded glassware, sometimes even with inscribed names. The factions rivaled greatly, sometimes leading to violence among supporters. In general, however, the greens and blues were the favorites.

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