Later Roman circuses - Ancient Rome
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Later Roman Circuses

circus model
A modern model of what the
Circus Maximus in Rome would have looked like.

Chariot-racing was okay with the Christians, and so people kept on going to the races long after the gladiatorial games had been stopped. In the later Roman empire, in Constantinople, the charioteers formed teams that were known by their colors (Red, White, Green, and Blue). People rooted for their team, and often got into fights with the other teams. Sometimes the teams even supported political candidates, or led riots against the Emperor!

circus maximus
This is what the Circus Maximus looks like today.
Can you see where the people sat, on the sides?

Here's a video of people racing chariots in the Roman circus at Jerash in modern Jordan:


Bibliography and further reading about Roman circuses and chariot-racing:

Spend the Day in Ancient Rome: Projects and Activities that Bring the Past to Life, Ages 8-12 by Linda Honan (1998). Chapter 10 is all about the circus. Easy reading.

Life, Death, and Entertainment in the Roman Empire, edited by David Potter and David Mattingly (1999). Good solid information from specialists, written for college students.

Roman Circuses: Arenas for Chariot Racing, by John H. Humphrey (1986). Everything you could ever want to know about the racetracks, the seats, the starting gates, and the signals, based on archaeology. By an experienced excavation director, for specialists.

Circus Factions: Blues and Greens at Rome and Byzantium, by Alan Cameron (1993). About the Byzantine political teams, by an expert.

Roman gladiators
More about Roman games
More about Ancient Rome
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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