Chariot racing and Gladiator combat were two spectacular sports which attracted large crowds in the ancient Roman empire.

Gladiators - Introduction

White uniformed GladiatorGladiator combat was a vicious sport that was popular in the ancient Roman empire. Men, women and animals fought in one-on-one combats up to large group combats. Some were prisoners captured by the Roman army, who saw this as a way of life preferable to rotting in captivity in a cell.

Although rare, it was possible for them to gain their freedom by being successful and popular with the crowds.

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Chariot Racing - Introduction

Chariots Racing around the cornerChariot racing was the most popular sport in Rome, attracting bigger crowds even than the gladiators.

Although some chariot races were held in the Colosseum, they were more usually held in a special arena known as a circus.

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Chariot Racing - Circus Maximus

circus2Chariot races were held in a circus, so named because of its circular shape. The oldest and largest circus in Rome was the Circus Maximus.

Originally there was no building, just a flat sandy track with temporary markers. As the popularity continued, the venue was improved over time to cater for the large crowds.

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Chariot Racing - Charioteers

eagle2Good charioteers became heroes. Each charioteer worked for a team. The teams were distinguished by a colour, such as Green or Red. 

Great skill was needed and races were very exciting with many spills and crashes. Drivers were killed on a regular basis.

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