Ludi Lupercales 2761 Sprint Race - Finals (Nova Roma)
The Minor Finals and Finals Races
Direct from the Circus Flaminius - by M' Verus Paenula
We return today to the site of yesterday’s athletic demonstrations, the Circus Flaminius, on this, another cool, yet somewhat windy, but beautiful winter afternoon. A bit more windy today than yesterday, and the street vendors have recognized this as a prime opportunity to offer warm muslum to the arriving spectators. All around the Circus, the vendors have their braziers fired up and serving some of the best varieties of warm foods and beverages that can be found south of the Rubicon. As we approach the gates to the Circus, we see several citizens betting on the day’s races with the ultimate confidence in their favoured contestants.
For the final race day celebrations, we can see the many different musical troupes filing into the Circus to prepare for the entertainment venues to be presented before the races, during the intermission, and after the races. One troupe from Ostia, the Trojan Tubicens of the 1st Consular Legio, are dressed in elaborate tunicae with highly-polished horns and are reputed to be some of the best military musicians on the Italian Penninsula. Another group from here in Roma, the Numa Tradition, will be offering a special presentation during the Intermission, consisting of ancient music, played on a variety of instruments, including lyres, tubicens, cornicens, flutes, a lituus and a water-organum. A trademark of the Numa Tradition is their own tradition of providing not only music, but costumed entertainment in their productions. This group is famous for their Ursus tibicen (flute playing bear) and Pullus cornicen (horn-blowing chicken) routines.
The Locarii (ticket scalpers) have bought up most of the good seats and are selling them at ridiculously inflated prices, but this does not seem to stop the spectators from paying top-denarii for the prized seats. Nor, from arguing over the sales, as there have been several people questioned by the authorities about some incidents already today of violent behavior in regards to ticket purchases and refusals to resell them to other devoted spectators. The crowds are beginning to increase in numbers and are starting to file into the Circus to get the best seats early. Several Senators are making their way through the crowd, stopping to politic and answer citizen’s questions along the way.
Citizen Venator and his lovely wife have just arrived and are “inspecting” the offerings of the street vendors, many who are members of the Sodalitas Coquorum et Cerevisiae Coctorum. Several of the vendors are seeking membership in the Sodalitas and ask about information. Many citizens congratulate him on his recovery from a recent bout with the dreaded Carthaginian Influenza and are happy he was able to make it out to the Circus today. Several citizens run up to him and ask him to personally sign their copies of one of his newly-released poetic works scrolls.
Quaestor Maior is also making her rounds through the vendor area, inspecting each cart and ensuring the vendors are complying with the edicta concerning the Ordo Equester and Macellum rules and regulations. One vendor has already been removed for fraudulently selling religious artifacts with the engraving, “Made in Roma.” The items were confiscated by the authorities as fakes, actually being made in a sweatshop in Agrigentum…the vendor not paying his import duties and slipping the artifacts in through the Port Tibernius in sacks of grain.
We are going to leave you momentarily, so we can ourselves move inside to set up for better coverage of the races to be held here shortly.
Most of the Circus seats have now filled, and the crowd eagerly awaits the opening procession. The Russata fans are in the stands cheering, “Crassus divitiae locariorum,” or “Crassus means riches for the ticket scalpers!” The Greens and Blue are having their usual spirited fights over which Factio is better positioned to win the day’s events. Albata fans are again present in toga candida, proclaiming an early victory already for Factio Iuppiter. Tensions are high in the Circus, but they always are and it is to be expected.
The procession is now entering the Circus. Leading the procession are the various musicians, who are playing a lively and triumphant medley. Next come the training staffs of the different factiones, followed by the Aedilitas curules staff of Quaestor Marca Hortensia Maior, Scribae Scribae C. Marcius Crispus, Cn. Cornelius Lentulus, Q. Valerius Poplicola, and A. Tullia Scholastica. Behind them comes Editor of the Races, Quaestor L. Vitellius Triarius, and the Curule aediles, P. Memmius Albucius and Sex. Lucilius Tutor, and finally the Consules M. Moravius Piscinus Horatianus and T. Iulius Sabinus, preceded by their lictors en masse.
The Consules and Aediles have found their seats above the Senators in the first row in the Editor’s Box. Everyone is questioning Consul Sabinus about the nature of his son, Crassus, and his ability to run the race today. Consul Sabinus has assured everyone that Crassus is top shape, and that yesterday’s unfortunate cramp had been identified with the cool weather. He further advises that the team Medicus has been working with the training staff all morning to assure that the proper warm-up and stretching exercises have been performed by Crassus to the strictest standards to prevent such a mishap from occurring again this afternoon.
Quaestor Vitellius and Scriba Lentulus are now coming onto the field to meet with the contestants and advise of the race rules. Quaestor Hortensia and Scriba Valerius are preparing the finish line with the other staff members, while Scribae Tullia and Marcius are ensuring that the Circus staff promptly distributes the flyers to the crowd, listing the biographies of each runner in today’s races.
4:00 PM Minor Finals Race
It is now time for the first race of the day and the Ludi, the Minor Finals. This race consists of all the contestants, who placed either 3rd or 4th in the Semi-Finals Races yesterday. The signal is given by Scriba Lentulus for the runners to form their line. Rutilus, sponsored by Maxima Valeria Messallina and representing Factio Iuno of Ludus Venetus takes his place in Lane I, beside Lucius Vestigius Quietus of Factio Iuppiter of Ludus Albatus in Lane II, sponsored by Consularis Gn. Equitius Marinus. Next, in Lane III, Crassus, son of Consul Iulius Sabinus, sponsored by himself and representing the Factio Quirinus of Ludus Russatus. Finally, in Lane IV, Gaius Aurelius Falco Celer of Factio Martis of Ludus Praesinus, sponsored by Gaia Aurelia Falco Silvana.
The runners receive their last minute instructions from Scriba Lentulus and then form their line. Each one looks down the 203 metre stretch and anticipates a big win. Quaestor Vitellius motions for the crowd to lower its roar, which they do. Now, the Circus is silent, as Quaestor Vitellius raises his right arm, then drops the mappa!
The runners fly off the starting line with immense speed! Rutilus takes the lead, but only momentarily, as Celer strains ahead of him. Crassus and Lucius Vestigius Quietus are right behind them. All four of the runners, barefoot as required per race rules, are throwing sand all over the place. It almost looks like a horse or chariot race from the dust that is being thrown up into the air.
Should anyone fall behind, they will surely suffer from this unbelievable amount of dust that is being generated. Celer continues the lead, with Rutilus in close second, followed by Lucius Vestigius Quietus, then Crassus. Celer doesn’t seem to even be sweating as he maintains the lead of a good metre in front of his closest opponent. Lucius Vestigius Quietus has now caught up to Rutilus and is battling for second position in the race. Crassus is following in fourth position, but cannot seem to get into the heat of the battle. Sources say there may be a question of too much Falernian at last night’s celebrations, but that is just pure speculation. The runners have passed the 100 metre mark and are over halfway to victory at his point. Lucius Vestigius Quietus has now taken a good 2 metre lead over Rutilus, but is still behind, albeit not much, but behind the continual leader in this race, Celer. Now, 50 metres to go and Rutilus and Crassus are battling for third place. 20 metres to go and Celer is just dominating this race. Rutilus has just fallen back into fourth place, behind Crassus. As the runners cross the finish line, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who placed where, but, we will have to wait for the official results.
Quaestor Hortensia and Scriba Valerius have certified the results and are now giving the wax tablet to Quaestor Vitellius, who announces the following:
- Celer – 1st Place (21”80)
- Lucius Vestigius Quietus – 2nd Place (21”83)
- Crassus – 3rd Place (21”85)
- Rutilus – 4th Place (22”18)
4:30 PM Finals Race
It is now time for the second and last race of the day and the Ludi, the Finals. The Circus workers are raking the track for this next race, while the race officials make some last minute decisions. Quaestor Vitellius and Scriba Lentulus have issued some instructions to Scriba Valerius, who is no running off the field and speaking to the Circus staff. In a few moments, the staff come onto the field with a horse-drawn cart with about a dozen amphorae in the back of the cart. The servii drive the cart down the lanes, sprinkling what appears to be olive oil onto the sand to cut down the dust problem. After they have finished making several passes up and down the lanes, the cart is pulled off and the race preparations continue as planned.
This race consists of all the contestants, who placed either 1st or 2nd in the Semi-Finals Races yesterday. The signal is given by Scriba Lentulus for the runners to form their line. Celera, sponsored by Maxima Valeria Messallina takes his place in Lane I, beside Quintus Vitellius Triarus Vopiscus in Lane II, sponsored by himself, with both representing Factio Iuno of Ludus Venetus. Next, in Lane III, Manius Aurelius Falco Rapax, sponsored by Gaia Aurelia Falco Silvana and representing the Factio Martis of Ludus Praesinus. Finally, in Lane IV, Marcus Vestigius Quietus, representing Factio Iuppiter of Ludus Albatus, sponsored by Consularis Gn. Equitius Marinus.
Scriba Lentulus promptly advises the runners of the rules of the race and answers any last minute questions. Quaestor Vitellius makes his way back to the stands in preparation for the start of the race. Once in position, he then reaches inside his toga praetexta and pulls out the Lupercalia mappa, specially made for the Lupercalian events by members of the Caelian Guild of Tailors.
The line now formed, Quaestor Vitellius motions for the crowd to settle and a brief, but impatient, silence occurs in the Circus. Slowly raising his right arm, he holds the mappa in place before him. The runners anxiously await the start. The wind suddenly gusts, blowing the mappa sideways, and Rutilus of Factio Iuno jumps the line, misinterpreting the signal and causing a false start. When this happens, the supporters of the Greens burst into laughter at the Blues and several fights break out in the stands. The authorities move quickly to move the combatants out of the Circus and into the street.
With order now restored in the stands, Quaestor Vitellius again ceremoniously raises the mappa, the silence is deafening…then the mappa drops quickly and the runners break out! Celera and Marcus Vestigius Quietus have extraordinary starts and go the first 30 metres along side of each other. These are two well-matched athletes. Next, narrowly behind them is Vopiscus, followed by Rapax, who appears to be pacing himself early and showing absolutely no signs of strain by the calm and determined look on his face. Marcus Vestigius Quietus drops his position to Rapax momentarily, but loses it again to Marcus Vestigius Quietus. Now, Vopiscus moves into the third position, overtaking Rapax. Now, Vopiscus moves into second place, easing by Marcus Vestigius Quietus. What an unexpected change this is after the seemingly slow start that Vopiscus had a few moments ago. Celera and Vopiscus are side-by-side, both giving it all they have. Oh! Celera has fallen back into second place behind Vopiscus. With only about 70 metres to go, Celera takes back the lead momentarily, then falls back to third, as Rapax advances with his second wind. Now it is Rapax versus Celera for first place and immediately following is Marcus Vestigius Quietus versus Vopiscus for second place. Now, about 40 metres out from victory, all four are moving back and forth among the positions. The winner could be anyone at this point, it is too close to call yet. Are they running in together for a four-way tie? NO, Vopiscus starts to fall back…he’s lost his momentum. Now it’s a three-man race! The runners are beginning to separate with only about 20 metres to go. The staff on the finish line are all prepared for a close finish. Each official has his eyes fixed on the finish line, and now they cross, one, two, three…
From the stands, I cannot tell who the winner is, much less the second or third places. The officials are running over to meet Quaestor Vitellius to discuss it. The runners slow to a cool-down pace and the crowds are going crazy. There is a tremendous amount of denarii resting on this race, it is now over, and no one knows yet what the outcome is. The crowds are so loud the officials can’t here each other and Scriba Lentulus motions for the crowds to quieten down. The roar lowers and the officials make their decision.
Quaestor Vitellius addresses the crowd and announces that there has been a new record set in the foot race annals of the Circus Flaminius! He then announces the following results:
- Celera – 1st Place (21”40) and VICTOR of the Ludi Lupercale(nese)s Sprint Races
- Rapax – 2nd Place (21”73)
- Marcus Vestigius Quietus – 3rd Place (21”76)
- Vopiscus – 4th Place (21”85)
The crowds cheer as the musicians play a triumphant march and the Victor, Celera, is lifted up into the air and carried by Ludus Venetus members to the Editor’s Box for the awards presentation ceremony.
The Aediles come forth to present the Ludi Victor with his rewards. Aedile Lucilius give a laurel crown to Maxima Valeria Messallina, sponsor and Domina factionis of Factio Veneta and current Lanista of the Ludus Venetus, who places the crown on Celera’s head. Quaestor Vitellius presents him with a silver bowl, imported from Graeciae and emblazoned with Greek athletes in various poses. Aedile Memmius then opens a leather bag and pours the bowl completely full of golden denarii, a gift from the coffers of the four racing Factiones for a job well done.
The crowd cheers again and a closing ritus is performed by Scriba Lentulus in honor of Iuppiter, Mars, Quirinus and Iuno. Quaestor Vitellius thanks the contestants, the Aediles, the Consules and the Gods for an absolutely great two days of racing and then releases the crowds to enjoy this, the last day of the Ludi Lupercale(ense)s. Let the festivities begin as the sun sets on the Tiber with its Roman shades of red and gold.