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date: 19 January 2018

athletics, Roman

At Rome colourful circus spectacles (especially chariot-racing) and ball games were the most popular sporting activities. But Augustus promoted traditional athletics, staging athletics competitions in the Campus Martius and exhibition-running in the Circus (Suet. Aug. 43. 1–2); he himself was keen on watching boxing (45. 2). Ultra-distance running was also practised: ‘Some men can do 160 [Roman] miles in the Circus’ (Plin. HN 7. 84). Interest in athletics was maintained by the establishing of Greek-style games at Rome and elsewhere. In (?)4 bceTiberius won the chariot-race at the Olympian Games; from then on, Romans (mostly either eastern provincials with Roman citizenship, or those with sufficient authority to bend the rules, as Nero did in ce 67) won at Olympia with increasing regularity. See agones.


Ancient sources

Epinician odes of Pindar and Bacchylides.Find this resource:

Pausanias bks. 5 and 6.Find this resource:

Philostratus, Peri gymnastikes.Find this resource:

W. E. Sweet, Sport and Recreation in Ancient Greece: A Sourcebook with Translations (1987).Find this resource:

S. G. Miller (ed.), Arete: Greek Sports from Ancient Sources, 2nd edn. (1991).Find this resource:

Modern literature

Museo della Civiltà Romana, Lo sport nel mondo antico (1987).Find this resource:

Nikephoros: Zeitschrift für Sport und Kultur im Altertum (1988– ).Find this resource:

O. Tzachou-Alexandri (ed.), Mind and Body: Athletic Contests in Ancient Greece (1989).Find this resource:

S. Miller, Ancient Greek Athletics (2004).Find this resource:

N. B. Crowther, Athletika. Studies in the Olympic Games and Greek Athletics (2004).Find this resource:

J. König, Athletics and Literature in the Roman Empire (2005).Find this resource:

Z. Newby, Greek Athletics in the Roman World (2005).Find this resource:

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