Ludi Apollinares 2770 AUC
From the Office of the Tribuni Militum Consulari Potestate
P. Annæus Constantinus Placidus, tribunus militum consulari potestate Novæ Romæ, omnibus civibus S.P.D.
It is with the utmost pleasure that I hereby announce the official opening of the Ludi Apollinares for the year 2770 a.U.c. These Games are held in honor of the Sacred 20th Year of Nova Roma. The main ritual to Apollo will be performed on July 13 by Pontifex Cn. Cornelius Lentulus, but religious citizens can and should pray to Apollo each day from the opening to the closing.
The Games will include three main events, articulated as follows:
- 1) A history contest, managed and organized by my esteemed colleague C. Claudius Quadratus;
- 2) A special edition of Ipse Dixit, my recurring contest on Latin quotations, starting tomorrow and ending on July 14.
- 3) A Chariot Race, to be run in a single five-lap race on July 13.
Participation and subscription rules for all three events will follow soon, so you are all recommended to follow this List attentively.
Optime valete omnes!
P. Annæus Constantinus Placidus
Tribunus Militum Consulari Potestate
Program of the current ludi Apollinares
Ipse Dixit Quiz IXth Edition - Special Edition
- The game, the results and other announcements on the fora.
Quadratus' History Contest for Roman coin prize
- The game, the results and other announcements on the fora.
Ludi circenses (virtual chariot race)
The below is the report of the results of the virtual chariot race. The report is made in a spirit blending modern day and ancient Roman circumstances in a humorous way.
The broadcast starts immediately after the opening credits, as the strains of the theme tune, a heroic-sounding piece for brass and drums, are still heard over the very first shot: a circling pan of the entire Circus Maximus in Roma to show various areas of the bleachers, extremely crowded with supporters waving blue, green and red flags and banners. The crackling of a few fireworks is heard here and there, and low puffs of coloured smoke rise occasionally from the bleachers where the rowdiest guys are. Once the pan around the Circus is completed, the camera moves down to the center of the Circus where Placidus is standing in his top-ranking magisterial toga prætexta. He is wearing the garment quite elegantly, but still one can see that it is not brand new, as it bears traces of a few unproperly-cleaned spots. Placidus, who also wears asmall wireless microphone around his head ending close to his mouth, looks straight into the camera and starts speaking.
Dominæ et Domini, iuvenes, pueri et puellæ… to put it in a nutshell, everybody! … salvete omnes, and welcome to the Chariot Race event of these Ludi Apollinares 2770! [Huge cheering from the crowd.] This is Publius Annæus Constantinus Placidus, or just Placidus if you prefer, Tribunus Militum Consulari Potestate of Nova Roma, and official chronicler of this race – unexpectedly, I really have to say. I’d thought that all of my commitments here on the racetrack for this year had ended when I told you everything about that fantastic race last spring… yes, that one, with all the aftermath you all know better than me about, involving that poor guy Maleos… as I hope you can see, my toga prætexta still bears a few faint testimonies of the big hug I gave to that wounded, sweaty and tired but absolutely wonderful guy, at the end of the race. Well, folks, I really thought that I’d never get to chronicle another race over the course of this year 2770 ab Urbe condita. But as they say, “never say never”, and indeed here I am again! [Cheering.Placidus looks behind him.] Right now, according to protocol, I should introduce my colleagues, but I only see one here… my dear friend Gaius Claudius Quadratus. I shall go and ask him where the others are. [He goes to Quadratus.] Salve, Quadrate amice. Where are my peers?
Quadratus: Salve, Placide! Well, Catulus is at home… he said the weather was too hot for him, and although it is indeed… [He wipes his forehead]… I think I know why he preferred to stay at home: he’s got the latest state-of-the-art air conditioning system installed, as well as a delicious Egyptian girl fanning him. I guess THAT’S the real reason why he didn’t come! [Both he and Placidus laugh.]
Ha-ha, well, I do understand. What about Lucilius, though?
Quadratus: Oh, don’t you know? He’s there! [He points to the far end of the racetrack, where Lucilius is standing next to a chariot, chatting to his armoured charioteer.] He’s racing, you know. As such, he cannot start the race… you know better than me that the starter has to be impartial. And since I’m a bit too old to shout out the actual starting signal, I’ve got a little surprise for you. [He bends down below his seat as Placidus looks at him with expectant curiosity. He re-emerges with a piece of red cloth in his hand: the starter’s nappa.] Lucilius gave this to me and didn’t say anything but: “Give this to Placidus as soon as he’s near you.” So I guess it’s up to you, my friend.
Oh, my Gosh. Now I do understand why Cnæus Cornelius Lentulus Alexander, our broadcast director for this race and paterfamilias to my dear friend Lentulus, made me wear this silly-looking thing on my mouth instead of having me speaking into my usual hand-held stick… that brat knew everything from the start! [Pause. A grunting voice is faintly heard from Placidus’s earphone in his left ear.] What? Oh no, sir, no offence meant to you personally. I was joking. [Pause. More grunting, but softer.] Oh. Whew! Well, thanks a lot, sir, I really thought I made you angry. I promise it won’t happen again, OK? [Voice from earphone: “OK!”] Well folks, have you heard? That was him. Grumpy but golden-hearted. By the way, where is is young ’un? [He looks at the lineup again.] Oh, there he is! Competing as well! I CAN’T miss this! [Placidus runs to Lentulus across the racetrack. When they are close, Lentulus speaks into Placidus’s microphone.]
Salve, Lentule amice. Well, “expect the unexpected” seems to be the rule, this year, doesn’t it? First, I get to conduct another broadcast when I really thought it was over, THEN I even get to start the race… aren’t all of you guys, starting from your elder up there, giving a bit too much importance to me?
Lentulus: Tribune amice carissime, I know that your humble attitude sometimes makes you forget how important you are, but you ARE. You are our leader. Everything you do affects us all. So do not be afraid to be a leader, simply because you are.
Well, yes, I know that I am on top… still… getting to start a chariot race is something I’ve never done before…
Lentulus: There’s a first to everything, as they say. It’s easy, just shout “GO!” and drop the thing. By the way, I wanted to introduce you to Dorothea, my driver. She’s beautiful and fierce… very intelligent, quick-thinking and very shrewd. And, you know, I sort-of saved her from her previous owner… that tax revenue officer was a real pest, beating and abusing her all the time! But now she’s with me, and you know what? [He moves away from the microphone and whispers into Placidus’s ear.] But don’t tell anybody, OK?
OK, my friend. My lips are sealed. Sorry if I have to cut this conversation short, but I have to get to the new guy, over there, who entered two chariots. [Pause. While Lentulus waves at him, Placidus turns his back to Lentulus and, motioning to the camera to come closer, he points to Lentulus and his charioteer, smiles and makes a gesture with two fingers to mean “him and her – together”. Lentulus Sr. is heard giggling from the earphone. Placidus then moves to Quintus Septimius Niger, the newest entrant, passing Lucilius along the way.] Hey, Lucili collega, that was quite a smart sort-of move from you, passing the baton right now… wasn’t it?
Lucilius: Don’t worry, collega. You can do that. Just do what Lentulus said. Go now, the new guy is waiting.
All right, Lucili. Good luck. [Lucilius gives Placidus a thumb-up while he moves to Septimius.] Salve, Septimi! So, after your superb performance in my Ipse Dixit game and all of your very well-researched answers, you decided to try your luck in chariot racing as well! [Pause. Septimius looks down and chuckles.] I have to warn you, though, that the dirt and sweat of the racetrack have absolutely nothing in common with typing on a keyboard to solve quizzes! How did you get this crazy idea?
Septimius: Salve, Tribune Placide. Well, I learned about this event at the very last minute, only through Facebook, because, you see, I’m not a citizen. But I’m always connected to your great Nova Roma page… [He opens up a small laptop computer in his hand and the NR Facebook page appears on the screen.]… so I get everything that happens in Nova Roma as soon as it pops up here. Indeed, I was late in answering Item Five, yesterday, exactly because I was too excited about having just subscribed my drivers to this race! By the way, wonderful quiz. I hope you do more like it in the future. Also, I humbly beg forgiveness from you for having not realized how high-ranking you are. [He starts lifting up his right arm to salute Placidus, but the latter grabs his arm just in time.] Stop right there, Septimi. I don’t need this nonsense. Anyway, thanks a lot for the kind words, but now my only recommendation to you is to shut that thing off, then just sit down behind the bleachers wall and enjoy the race. I’m here, so nothing can ‘pop up’ for at least an hour! [He chuckles.] If you wish, you can exchange a couple more quick words with your drivers before we start. By the way, can you introduce them to me?
Septimius: Sure. Here on my newest chariot Tuscus I have a real champion, Gaius Apuleius Diocles… everybody calls him Lamecus, though, as he’s from Lamego in Lusitania. He is so popular in his home town, that they’ve erected him a statue! [Pause. He smiles proudly ad Diocles, who responds by assuming a hero-like posture. He is very young, looking not a day older than 24.] I’m so glad he’s in my team now. And the other guy up here on Volucer is Scorpus. He also is from down there, from sunny Hispania, to be precise. [Pause. Placidus looks up to see a muscular guy, more battle-worn than Diocles, with scars and bruises all over his body.] You see, all his previous owners always told him to wear helmets and body armours, as this sport is dangerous. I also told him that. But he won’t listen to anybody, he says his skin is too hard!
Well, amice, if your guy deems himself tough, maybe it really means he IS tough, doesn’t it? [Septimius: Indeed!] Thanks very much for talking to me.
[Pause. Lentulus Sr.’s gruffy voice is heard from Placidus’s earphone. “Placide! Enough with your talking! We have just 2 minutes left before the start!” Placidus replies through the microphone.] OK, sir. Just let me get back to the starter’s podium. [While he passes Lentulus Jr., the latter shouts at him: “Hey, Tribune amice!”. Placidus stops, Lentulus hands him a scroll.] What’s this now? [He opens it.] Ah, the tactics. Gratias tibi ago, amice. [Lentulus nods.] I’ve got no time to read all of this now, I will mark it out as we proceed with the race. All you folks out there in front of your TV screens, please excuse me for just a moment… I have to step momentarily out of my commentator role to assume a slightly more important one. Just one more thing, though. I think it’s time to see the full lineup for this race. [To Lentulus Sr., pushing the earphone in his ear.] Can we get to it, sir? Thanks. [The shot changes to the electronic billboard, which shows the following lines, appearing as animated CGI items on the TV screen.]
LANE | CHARIOT | OWNER | DRIVER | TEAM
I | Titan’s Disaster | Sex. Lucilius Tutor | Stoicus | VENETA
II | Aquila Volans | M. Claudius Nero | Flavius | RUSSATA
III | Nova Roma | Cn. Cornelius Lentulus | Dorothea | RUSSATA
IV | Tuscus | Q. Septimius Niger | Diocles | PRÆSINA
V | Volucer | Q. Septimius Niger | Scorpus | RUSSATA
[The shot gets back to the racetrack and Placidus talks to the charioteers.] Boys, get your horses in line, quick! [Pause. He waits patiently while all horses line up before the starting line. Some of them are whinnying impatiently. Placidus gets on the starter’s podium.] Attention! Ready?... [He lifts the nappa up high.] GO!!! [He drops the nappa. All the horses start running at a furious pace. Dust lifts off the ground and gets to Placidus. He coughs slightly.]
Cough-cough… ahem, well, sorry, folks. Never done it before. Let’s see now…
As I can see from my monitor here, there are five brazen dolphins o n the pole yet again, and the first has already bowed down… meaning that it’s going to be another massive, five-lap race! Before I go any further, though, I think I’d better move to a safer place. These guys are at it like mad! [Pause. While Placidus climbs up the narrow spina wall, two labourers, wearing short tunics, yellow hard hats and workman’s gloves, run from the bleachers to the podium and quickly dismantle it, leaving behind only Placidus’s monitor, which he pulls closer to him, then they run back.] Thanks, guys! [One labourer, with his gloves still on, waves at Placidus from the bleachers, then disappears.] Rough-and-tough Scorpus has already moved at least one meter past all of his pursuers, but now he has to face the spina… here he goes… perfect. [He checks his scroll.] Ah, OK, that’s his tactic. Risky guy, eh? I’d kind-of guessed it. Stoicus, Flavius, Dorothea and young Diocles all follow in a more-or-less diagonal line behind Scorpus. Stoicus makes his forward move along the second straight line, as per his tactic, and almost catches up! A fiery glance and an angry grunt from Scorpus aren’t enough to stop Stoicus… after all, as his name says, he is unmoved by any ordinary human emotions and he just stays fully focused on his purpose, which is, in this case, running a great race. Scorpus goes around the spina perfectly as above, followed by Stoicus, Flavius, Dorothea and Diocles, and they all cross the finish line exactly like this, as the second dolphin folds, telling us that we’re already fully into…
You see, folks, every lap in a chariot race is different. A race never stays the same, it’s like a chameleon – it constantly changes itself. Was Dorothea fourth up to no less than ten seconds ago? Forget it! After crossing the finish line right behind Flavius, she went around the spina just as perfectly as Scorpus – same tactic! – and first paired herself with Flavius, then she amply overtook him… in spite of the fact that Nero’s powerful driver is apparently stronger in the straight lines than he is around the spinæ, he has also proved that he’s good in both parts of the racetrack. This, however, was not enough for the mighty Dorothea… I can see her right now on my monitor… of course she’s got no microphone, but her lip movement is clear enough for me to understand that she’s shouting with all the force she’s got in her throat… and not just shouting to her horses to push them, but also screaming out unrepeatable insults in Latin to Stoicus… in view of that, I must say that I’m glad she has no mic! [Laughter from the bleachers behind Placidus.] Anyway, she managed to put herself firmly in t hird position and, as everyone goes around the second spina, some of them of course much better and faster than others, she starts pushing for the second place beyond the already unreachable Scorpus… but she doesn’t quite happen to get there, as the chariots cross the finish line… Scorpus, Stoicus, Dorothea, Flavius and Diocles… and the third dolphin goes down, bringing this exciting race into…
In every chariot race which is worth to be termed that, there is always a portion which I like to call “time for development”. This may happen at the very start, it may happen at the very end, and, less frequently, it may happen in the middle – like it’s happening right now before my eyes! It just looks like Diocles has gotten tired of being last… he pushes his way right along Flavius in the straight line… and as both of them get around the first spina, Flavius makes the mistake of looking behind himself and not looking where he’s going… maybe a small, trivial and meaningless error in everyday life, but often a fatal one in chariot racing, especially when going around a spina! A horrible scraping noise is heard from the right wheel of Aquila Volans… sparks fly from the hub… but Flavius manages to pull himself away from the wall and, luckily for him, his chariot is still solidly on both wheels… but his carelessness has resulted in him slipping into the fifth place and Diocles overtaking him, and distancing him. All because of just one second’s turn of the head… well, my dear Flavius, that’s the law – the hard law of the racetrack. Dorothea and Stoicus, in the meantime, keep on having opposite behaviours… she’s spouting all sorts of nasty words over him, while he’s letting all of them flow on top of his body just like fresh water… and in spite of Dorothea’s earlier attempt to overtake Lucilius’s philosophical charioteer, nothing has changed in the front part of the race, so on the finish line we have, as of right now, Scorpus, Stoicus, Dorothea, Diocles and Flavius, as the fourth brazen dolphin puts his head down, carrying us all safely – but never safely enough! – into…
Okay, folks, earlier on, at the start of Lap 3, I was sort-of enjoying a few moments of brain relaxation by explaining to all of you my ideal partition of an ideal chariot race, which, always in my mind, includes the “time for tactics” portion coming straight after the “time for development” one. But, hey, as I can see right now, I have no time at all for either relaxation or mental elucubrations… and it’s indeed time for tactics! Diocles, which, if I’m not wrong, has chosen to hurry in the last laps…. [He checks his scroll.] …yes, that’s him… indeed my notes here have that as “his signature move”!... Diocles, I was saying, pushes onwards with the strenght of youth, but also with the skill of an expert driver with more than 200 victories under his belt… he lashes his horses furiously, and while him and no other than the hard-biting Dorothea, right in front of him, are both going around the spina, he manages to overtake the black-haired panther! THAT’S what I call “tactics”… and Dorothea, in response, cannot seemingly do anything else than use her lash as well… but on Diocles’s body rather than on the horses! But the young Lusitanian is very well armoured… carbon fiber and titanium, extremely strong and incredibly light… and Dorothea’s hits have no effects at all on him… and as they push forward on the second straight line, around the second spina – almost coupled! – and finally across the finish line, we have Scorpus, Stoicus, Diocles, Dorothea and Flavius, as the fifth and last brazen dolphin turns around the pole from a horizontal to a vertical position, letting us all know that, at last, it’s due time for…
Folks, I have to tell you the honest truth, right now. I was completely wrong, earlier on, in planning the various phases of this race in my mind. What is occurring now on the racetrack is definitely a clear-enough demonstration that you cannot plan absolutely anything, because the hard truth of the actual happenings on the track will always crash right into your “ideal” planning! Flavius is lashing his horses like a demonic-possessed man! He is absolutely MAD!!! And in the meantime Dorothea is changing her pace… she has either lost her voice after all that shouting to her opponents – meaning she can’t spur her horses any longer – or she simply got very tired after pouring all of her energy into the previous laps. I don’t really know what happened to her… the fact is that she is slowing down… she doesn’t go around the spina too properly as she used to do in the previous laps… and so not even she can stop Flavius’s devilish run all the way to the head of the race! Flavius is eating ’em all up in big gulps… …Stoicus… Dorothea… Diocles… hey, hey, hey, he’s getting right behind Scorpus!! They’re just a few centimetres away as they are in the middle of the second straight line… Scorpus’s up-to-now catch-me-if-you-can attitude is being owerpowered by Flavius’s fury… he feels Flavius’s breath on his neck… and for the second time in this race the most fatal mistake in chariot race is committed: Scorpus looks behind himself just as he’s going around the spina!! [Placidus gets passionate.] SCORPUS!!! DON’T DO THAT!! WATCH THE ROAD!!! Oh, no!!! Too late!!
CRASH!!! The right wheel on Volucer is smashed hard against the spina wall. It is completely destroyed. Scorpus lets go of his reins, his horses run away… he falls down on the ground, causing a serious wound on his right arm. But he manages to scramble up on the spina wall, at a few meters from Placidus, just one second before Aquila Volans, driven by Flavius, runs over Volucer at lightning speed and smashes it to bits. Scorpus, safe on the spina, screams out in pain and grabs his right arm. Placidus goes to him and tries to confort him, but Scorpus sternly pushes him away with a despising gesture of his hand. As he does that, some groaned words are heard from Placidus’s microphone: “Please, Tribune, go away. I know that being kind is in your nature, but leave me alone. It’s over for me.” [He points to the drivers approaching the finish line.] “They have the glory. Tell everybody about them, not me.”
[Pause. Placidus resumes his chronicle with no trace of enthusiasm, but with a mixed tone halfway between neutrality and complete sadness.] You all heard him, hopefully. What can I say? These things happen. I’m just a bit disilluded about the fact that the poor guy took it so bad… after all his accident was no worse than Maleos’s one last time. Anyway, I see that the remaining four are crossing the finish line exactly as I left them before the crash: demon-powered Flavius is first, young Diocles is second, Dorothea the panther finishes third and unmovable Stoicus ends up fourth after a remarkable race. Now I think I am going to change my role yet again… although I’m not really in the proper mood to be rejoicing over anything, I have to do my job. And my job, right now, is to give prizes!
CONCLUSION AND PRIZING CEREMONY
A ten-piece military fanfare enters in the middle of the racetrack and plays the same heroic theme as in the start, while three labourers – the two guys from earlier and a colleague clothed in the same way – build up a three-step winners’ podium. Quadratus appears behind Placidus, carrying a tray with laurel wreaths and medals. Before starting to give prizes, Placidus looks around the Circus trying to spot Scorpus, but to no avail: the man has already left the Circus through the main exit.
Flavius climbs up the winner’s step; Placidus gives him a wreath and a gold medal, and Flavius lifts his hand as, all around the Circus, Russata supporters erupt in wild cheering. Fireworks explode, red confetti fly up in the air, thick red smoke rises up from the bleachers everywhere: it is the Russata team’s well-deserved victory celebration. Meanwhile, Placidus gives the silver medal to young Diocles, who unties his armour and throws it down on the ground, happily concluding this n-th racing adventure in his career. Finally, Placidus puts the bronze medal around Dorothea’s neck. She smiles and whispers something into Placidus’s ear. He mimes a shy, reserved “No!” with his index finger, then he turns to the camera and nods a knowing, sly “Yes!” while smiling in his own turn. Then an assistant gives him his wireless microphone again, but he does not wear it. Holding the sensitive head close to his mouth, Placidus faces the camera and talks to the TV audience.
Well, all of you folks out there, even for this time, for this race, we’ve seen it all, we’ve heard it all, I’ve told you all. I’m sure there could have been a slightly better way to end this whole thing, but what can you do… as the people up in Gallia usually say, c’est la vie. That’s life. And, of course, that’s chariot racing. Before finishing, let me extend yet again my most sincere and heartfelt thanks to all the chariot entrants, all the drivers, my Quæstorial friend Lentulus… great race, amice!… and his dear paterfamilias Lentulus Alexander, and of course my colleagues Lucilius, Quadratus and Catulus for making all of this possible. So, until next time, this is Publius Annæus Constantinus Placidus signing off, et optime valete omnes.