Ludi Circenses Finals ~ Ludi Conditorum 2761 (Nova Roma)
1:00 PM ~ Live at the Races
Salvete Race Fans! This is M. Verus Paenula REPORTING LIVE from the Circus Maximus this afternoon for the Ludi Circenses Finals of the Conditorum!
This grand race is the culminating competition in the first Circenses of the 10th Anniversary Year of the refounding of the Respublica, and today we will be covering four of the finest racing teams, one from each factio, here at the Circus Maximus.
Here at the Circus, the crowds are bustling about, meeting with friends, browsing the vendor carts, examining the racing factio displays set up around the Circus. As the crowd make their way in to the event, many are spending high denarii with the Locarii, who are proving that they are the leeches many people call them. But, they insist that the buyers do so voluntarily and that Mercurius is on their side. Whether this is the business side or the thief side, one can only debate!
We are going to visit with some of the factiones and see what their take on the day’s race is. We now make our way through the crowds and over to the Factio Albata display. We are here with Spurius Genucius, one of the trainers at the Factio Albata Stables. Can you tell us about Consularis Equitius’ entry today and how you think he will fair?
Spurius Genucius smiles and sips his wine, then states:
Consularis Equitius’ chariot, Ars Longa, is driven by Aoife of the Silures. Aoife is descendant of the ancient Silures, who made a fierce resistance to the Roman conquest about AD 48, with the assistance of Caratacus, a military leader and Prince of the Catuvellauni, who had fled from further east after his own tribe was defeated. Like his ancestors, Aoife is skilled in effective “guerilla warfare” on the track and is not easily subdued. He, like the ancient Romans wrote of his ancestors is “non atrocitate, non clementia mutabatur”: changed neither by cruelty nor by clemency. Albata is proud to have this veteran of the track representing us today. Do not expect an easy run with Aoife in the race!
Thanks Spurius Genucius for that update and good luck in the race today! Now we make our way over to the Factio Russata display, where several of the drivers and trainers are speaking with the fans. We are here with Numerius Ovidius, one of the new drivers for Russata. Numerius Ovidius, what can you tell us about the Reds and the race today?
Numerius Ovidius strokes one of the Russata horses on the nose, then hands the reins to a servus.
“Well, as a new driver, I have only driven in practice runs in the Trigarium, so I can’t exactly tell you what goes from a driver’s perspective, but it has to be a tremendous strain on one’s soul to be able to concentrate on the race and at the same time be judged by literally thousands of spectators, some who support you, and some who would love to see you flung end over end out the back side of your chariot! What I can tell you is that Russata’s entry in the finals represents one of our finest teams!
Amara Aegeus the Greek will be driving Celeritas, the chariot sponsored by T. Arminius Genalius. Amara has raced many a track in Graeciae and Roma and we expect his successes to follow with him on the track today. He carries a small marble figurine of Apollo in the leather bag attached to his side. It was a gift from his mother years ago when he began his career. A veteran of the track, his is skilled and precise in his execution of tactics in the lanes, so do not expect an amateur showing from him today. He has taken Russata to the Finals. While no easy task to accomplish, the process is certainly not foreign to him. We have all the confidence in the Mediterranean that he will be the Victor today!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Good luck and may the Gods be with you in your first race, whenever that shall be! We now are going to attempt to get through the crowds, which are packing into the Circus like sardines in an amphora!
We have made it across to the Factio Praesina exhibit where we will attempt to speak with the veteran drivers, Spandex the Vandal and Vindex, sponsored in the earlier races by Gaia Aurelia Falco Silvana, who is also now walking up to us. Salvete! Some veteran thoughts from the three of you on the race today?
Spandex, the veteran driver of the famous Praesina chariot, Velociraptor, volunteers these words:
“Yes, Praesina will win! No question about it!” Gaia Aurelia says: “Hopefully, Spandex is correct! Praesina has been very fortunate during this Ludi, and we can only hope that we can continue this winning streak! Many hours of work and training have gone into providing the best entries possibly for this year’s special Ludi celebrations, both at the Green stables and the Ludus Praesinus. We can only hope for the best, as this is exactly what we have planned for. The Praesina entry today, Volcanus, sponsored by Q. Servilius Priscus, is one of our new models and should prove to be a winning one. Volcanus is being driven by Merddyn the Celt. Many may know Merrdyn from previous races as he is one of our best drivers, and spends a lot of his free time recruiting for the Greens” Vindex adds, “We are currently seeking more entries in the coming events for both Factio Praesina and Ludu Praesinus, as we have available stalls and beds for our competitors.”
It looks like the Greens are ready for anything! Thanks and we will see you inside shortly! Vindex turns to speak with other fans, handing them a papyrus about the Factio. Gaia Aurelia instructs Spandex to give us a chariot escort to the Veneta display!
Riding through the crowds is much easier than trying to force yourself through the crowd. “Yes, it is!” states Spandex, as we arrive at the Veneta display. Thanks for the ride, Spandex. He salutes and returns back toward the Praesina exhibit.
We are here at the Factio Veneta display and everyone is wearing blue. The horses even have specially-dyed blue blankets. We are speaking Censor Ti. Galerius Paulinus, Citizen Q. Vitellius Triarus Vopiscus, and Bellator Marius, driver of Vopiscus’ chariot, Venetus Daemon.
Salve Censor! I expected you to already be inside on the terraces by now!
Censor Galerius pauses and says:
“Just making sure everything is in order for our entry today, Venetus Daemon, driven by Bellator Marius and sponsored by Vopiscus.”
Vopiscus states, “We had to make some last minute changes, which we have just completed. Guys, send her to the line! We’re running out of time!”
The Factio Veneta servii clear the way, and Marius drives the chariot toward the entrance gates of the Circus Maximus for the opening ceremony.
Censor Galerius continues, “We are excited about today’s race. We have had the most entries in the Circenses, but only ended up with one entry in the finals. We have made some long needed adjustments for this year, but have had to make further corrections to refine our initial adjustments. We are ready now, and hopefully you will see Veneta bring home the Victory corona!”
Censor, I would not be surprised if they don’t! Good luck and see you inside! We now go inside the Circus for the opening ceremony.
1:30 PM ~ Opening Ceremony
We are now here inside the Circus Maximus on the upper terraces, as we observe the hoards of fans, who are filing into their seats and waiting for the opening processional to begin. Little by little, the crowd makes its way into the Circus; most are seated now, though the latecomers are dashing about, trying to find seats...any seats, but preferably those with a good view, and not behind some tall German or Nubian barbarian who would obstruct their vision...not to mention that these benighted barbarians still haven't heard about the benefits of daily bathing, and, shall we say, are rather pungently scented...
At last, everyone seems to have found a seat somewhere, if only in the topmost and worst tier; the air crackles with excitement. The buzzing is so loud that one would have thought that someone had disturbed a beehive, and that, too, at a most inauspicious moment in apian life. The Porta Pompae is opened, and trumpeters, begin to play, the gates open and the musicians enter, playing the Triumphant Entrance of the Chariots.
As the opening processional enters the arena, the track fills with the multitude of attendants here to support the races today. First, after the musicians, comes Curule Aedile Sex. Lucilius Tutor, followed by Quaestors L. Vitellius Triarius and M. Hortensia Maior and the Aedilian cohors, who enter the Circus on chariots provided by the various factiones. Behind them come the Consules, M. Moravius Piscinus Horatianus and T. Iulius Sabinus, then the Censors, C. Fabius Buteo Modianus and Ti. Galerius Paulinus, next come the Praetors, M. Curiatius Complutensis and M. Iulius Severus, followed by many other Magistrates and Guests.
Now, another contingent of trumpeters enters, marching around the track as their brassy music fills the air. After them acrobats leaping and turning somersaults skip along, preceding a far more serious group which now makes its way around the track: a vexillation of soldiers from Legio XXIV, one of those which defends Rome and expands her sway, march in perfect time under the watchful eyes of their centurion, the wise and faithful Gallio Velius Marsallas. As they pass the pulvinar, they salute the magistrates, never missing a beat in their perfect drill. Next, as a change of pace from the more somber military mood, desultores, acrobatic riders who leap from one horse to another and perform other feats as they ride, now appear, entertaining the crowd with appetizers for the equestrian events to follow.
Next, come plaustra, carts carrying the images of the Gods. The statues of Those Who Made Rome Great are robed in the finest fabrics, brilliantly hued with the most exquisite (and expensive!) dyestuffs, their clothing woven by weavers whose skill is little inferior to that of Minerva herself. The statues themselves have been crafted by the finest sculptors in the known world, a worthy tribute to the Deities they represent. Close behind are the tensae, litters bearing still more, and equally impressive, images of the Gods; as each is borne to its place (the highest today reserved for the Capitoline Triad), as newly-elected Flamen Falacer, Q. Valerius Poplicola, honors the deities with an offering of incense and a libation, for the curule aediles have graciously granted him the honor of presiding over this race.
Finally, come the contestants in today’s races, driving their chariots into the Circus and making a ceremonious passage down the track along the spina, then turning the meta to return up the other side. The roar of the crowd is tremendous as the charioteers finish their processional and move to take their places at the gates. Reading the papyrus handout from the greeters, given to us upon entrance into the Circus we give you the run-down on today’s Semi-Finals races as issued by the officials at the Trigarium:
- Ars Longa of Factio Albata, driven by Aoife of the Silures and sponsored by Gn. Equitius Marinus
- Celeritas of Factio Russata, driven by Amara Aigeus the Greek and sponsored by T. Arminius Genialis
- Volcanus of Factio Praesina, driven by Merddyn the Celt and sponsored by Q. Servilius Priscus
- Venetus Daemon of Factio Veneta, driven by Bellator Marius and sponsored by Q. Vitellius Triarus Vopiscus
As the charioteers form their line, the servii secure the reins and the drivers dismount to draw lots for their lane positions with Quaestor Hortensia. The charioteers draw their lots, and take their positions accordingly. As you may recall, the gate is marked with the signs of the zodiac; lots are drawn to determine which entry takes which place. Albata draws first and selects Libra; Praesina is next and gets Pisces, then Russata chooses Capricorn, while Veneta draws Scorpio. They take their places in the gate. The banners of the factiones are briskly snapping in wind, and the crowd anxiously awaits the start. Custos Venator reads a short poem about courage in the face of danger to the crowd, then turns the Podium over to Flamen Q. Valerius, who rises, takes the mappa from Quaestor Vitellius and waves the gleaming white mappa for attention. A hush falls over the crowd. All eyes are now fastened on the Flamen Falacer. He raises his right arm, the horses snort wildly as the drivers tighten the reins, the mappa drops, and the gates spring open, launching the restrained chariots! They're off…tearing out of the gates like Iuppiter’s lightening bolts!
2:00 PM ~ The Finals Race
As the chariots break the starting line, the Circus completely explodes with a thunderous roar as the spectators cheer on their favorite teams! Out of the gates first is Volcanus, who is closely followed by Venetus Daemon and Ars Longa, with Celeritas narrowly behind! They race down the lanes, throwing dust into the air, but not pushing the horses too hard this early in the race. They round the first turning post in a gaggle, with Venetus Daemon emerging in front of the rest. Now, down the straight-a-way, the four chariots pull side-by-side and compete for the first position. Coming up on the second turning post, it is still Venetus Daemon in the lead! Ars Longa passes Volcanus, but loses his place back to Volcanus as they come out of the turn. Celeritas pulls ahead, after taking the turn too fast and being forced to slow his pace some. The first dolphin drops, as the charioteers fly by.
Racing on and coming up on the first turn, it is still Venetus Daemon in the lead, followed by Volcanus, then Celeritas, who has just made a quick dart in front of Ars Longa, and it’s back down the straight-a-way. Attempting to secure the lead, Volcanus lashes Bellator Marius with his whip! Venetus Daemon returns the favor and keeps on going. Celeritas and Ars Longa continue to fight for the third position as they make the second turn of the lap, and the second dolphin is turned down.
Wait! Venetus Daemon is experiencing some difficulty with the left wheel of his chariot. We cannot tell what the problem is… Venetus Daemon continues on now without any obvious concerns. Apparently, whatever the problem was, it corrected itself. Volcanus and Celeritas are now competing for second, but Ars Longa is forcing his way in between them as the round the first turn. The dust is heavy, so we can’t see just yet…YES! Ars Longa has come out of the turn in second position, as Volcanus and Celeritas compete for third. Down the long straight stretch on the back side, Ars Longa drives even harder to catch up with Venetus Daemon, who remains the leader in this race. Celeritas now takes this opportunity to try and drive Volcanus into the spina wall, but Volcanus doesn’t give in that easily! Volcanus lashes Aoife of the Silures, driver of Celeritas, repeatedly until he backs off. Celeritas is yelling something at Volcanus, but no one can make out what he is saying. With the second turn approaching, all the drivers prepare to turn, as the gravel and dust spews up into the air! Out of the turn, it is Venetus Daemon in first position, now Volcanus has overtaken Ars Longa for the second position, and Celeritas narrowly trails behind.
As the third dolphin falls, the charioteers speed down the lanes for a fourth time. The crowds are screaming louder than ever! The race at this point is somewhat a race of pairs. Venetus Daemon and Volcanus competing for the lead, and Ars Longa and Celeritas fighting for third. Again, the chariots round the first turning post. OOHHH! Volcanus has slid out, taking the turn too fast, but he is still on his wheels! Seizing the opportunity, Ars Longa and Celeritas slide by and take the second and third positions. Volcanus speeds with all he has to catch the others as they round the second turning post and the fourth dolphin is pulled down.
Over halfway now, the charioteers race down the lanes to the first turn. As they enter the first turn, Venetus Daemon cuts it sharp and comes up on one wheel, but the chariot falls back to the ground and Bellator Marius loses no position in the turn. Ars Longa is managing to hold on to the second position, as Celeritas and Volcanus fight for third. Down the back stretch, Ars Longa has now overtaken Venetus Daemon for the lead, and Celeritas has secured third position from Volcanus at this point. They race for the second turning post, turning almost like spokes on a wheel in perfect alignment! Venetus Daemon and Ars Longa are neck-and-neck, racing down the lanes, followed closely by Celeritas and Volcanus.
As the fifth dolphin turns downward, the charioteers know the end is nearing and they prepare for the final run. Pacing each other for a last final push, the chariots remain in the same position down the lanes, around the first turning post, then back up the rear side of the spina. As they make the second turn, Celeritas pulls up alongside of Ars Longa and Venetus Daemon. Volcanus is following immediately behind the three chariots as they fly by and the sixth dolphin is turned down.
As they shoot down the track, side-by-side, each driver tries to pull ahead of the others and take the lead. They fly around the first turn, and all three chariots slide in the gravel and bump into each other. Volcanus breaks hard as not to get caught up in the mess, which was almost a three-chariot accident. They continue down the lanes, focusing on the second turning post. Arriving at the turn, Venetus Daemon cuts sharply around and…something has happened…it looks like Venetus Daemon has busted the left wheel hub on the side of the spina! He continues madly down the lane! Ars Longa and Celeritas narrowly behind, followed by Volcanus.
The seventh and final dolphin drops and SNAP!!! The left wheel on Venetus Daemon has come off, takes two bounces and ends up on its side on top of the spina! Bellator Marius is still on the chariot, which is being dragged down the lane. Now the right wheel has come off and the chariot has become a sled! Bellator Marius is trying frantically to cut the reins, which are tied around his waist! His patron, Vopiscus, is furiously pacing the terraces, screaming for him to cut the reins! The Veneta fans are yelling words of encouragement, but I’m afraid he cannot hear them. He is too busy fighting to stay alive!
Celeritas, Volcanus and Ars Longa are desperately trying to safely navigate through the debris and dust storm being created by Venetus Daemon! Now, the chariot Venetus Daemon is breaking into pieces and comes to a complete stop, Bellator Marius being yanked over the front of the chariot and onto the gravel, still trying to cut his way loose! The crowds have grown completely silent, except for a few rude spectators from opposing factiones. Finally, Bellator Marius cuts himself loose and rolls out of the way, as Ars Longa, Celeritas and Volcanus drive by him. Approaching the first meta, each driver meets the turn with expected caution, then heads down the back stretch with break-neck speed!
Meanwhile, on the other side, the Circus medical staff and factio trainers have rushed out onto the track, have placed Bellator Marius on a litter, and are now rushing to get him out of the way before the remaining drivers come around the second turn. Here they come in a storm of dust, gravel flying everywhere…even up onto the first terrace where the Senators are seated! Out of the dust comes Celeritas, followed by Volcanus, then Ars Longa. As they break and spread out for the remaining short distance to the finish line, they each fight for the victor’s position! Here they come, Volcanus and Ars Longa side-by-side, narrowly behind Celeritas... and across the line they come! First is Celeritas, Second Place goes to Ars Longa by a nose, and Third Place goes to Volcanus!
The Quaestors are certifying the staff opinions of the finish, then Quaestor Vitellius announces the official certified results. It is a unanimous decision:
- VICTOR: Celeritas of Factio Russata, sponsored by T. Arminius Genialis
- 2nd Place: Ars Longa of Factio Albata, sponsored by Gn. Equitius Marinus
- 3rd Place: Volcanus of Factio Praesina, sponsored by Q. Servilius Priscus
- 4th Place: Venetus Daemon of Factio Veneta, sponsored by Q. Vitellius Triarus Vopiscus ***ACCIDENT***
2:30 PM ~ Closing Ceremony
As the officials clear the track, the drivers and their teams from today’s race circle the spina are saluted by the spectators, fans of the factiones, the Aedilician Cohors, and the many Magistrates here today. As the drivers finish their victory lap, Quaestor Vitellius calls for the officials of Factio Russata to come forward and bring their driver, Amara Aigeus, to the Podium.
Amara Aigeus drives up to the Podium and stands with his patron, T. Arminius Genialis. Presenting the gilded Victor’s Corona is Consul T. Iulius Sabinus, also a veteran member of the Factio Russata. Quaestor Vitellius presents T. Arminius Genialis with a large Greek red-figure pottery urn, depicting various images of charioteers. The Flamen Falacer presents Amara Aigeus with a large chest, filled with Nova Roman Sestertii in both the Declaratio and Quadriga styles.
This being the last of the games of the Ludi Conditorum, Quaestor Vitellius thanks the participants for a wonderful and challenging week of events and gives thanks to the Gods for these special occasions to be celebrated!
As the crowds disperse, the participants exit to their respective stables to enjoy the celebrations of this, a beautiful Roman afternoon!
Until we meet again at the next match or race, this is M. Verus Paenula of the Aedilician Network, signing off from the Circus Maximus and we will see you here again soon!
Di vos incolumes custodiant!