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Roman GamesEmperor Hadrian



The Latin word for game is "ludus", and for games is "ludi".

The Games in Ancient Rome were very popular. The Colosseum (or Flavian Ampitheatre) in Rome, where The Games were held for the entertainment of the Roman Citizens, was a huge outdoor theatre that could seat 45,000 people.

It was here that the Ancient Romans came to watch the gory combats and bloody battles that the Romans are well known for.

Entertainment at the Colosseum might have consisted of fights between gladiators, fights between men and wild animals and just people being attacked and eaten by lions and other wild beasts!

It is hard to imagine nowadays that this was the Ancient Romans' idea of fun!

Another sport that the people of Ancient Rome enjoyed watching was chariot racing. The chariot races were fiercely contested and could be very dangerous for the horses and riders involved.

Roman charioteers, who started their careers as slaves, were called aurigae or agitatores. They would race chariots to become famous and earn enough money to buy their freedom.

Chariot Racing was the most popular spectator sport amongst the Ancient Romans and huge crowds of spectators would gather in the Circus Maximus to support and cheer on their favourite "colours".

For personal sport, Roman Men excercised and practiced riding, wrestling, archery and swimming. Throwing and catching a ball high in the air was another popular game practiced by Roman Men.

In the countyside, Roman Men would have gone hunting and fishing.

Scroll down the page for some more information on Roman Games, including board games and to see a picture of a Roman Gladiator's Helmet.

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A bust of the Emperor Hadrian (c)2000 Princeton Economic Institute justin Paola - Ancient Rome History Resource Hadrians Roman Life in the times of Emperor Hadrian

The Emperor Hadrian ruled for 21 years from A.D. 117 until A.D. 138, when the Empire of Ancient Rome was at its height.

The Emperor Hadrian consolidated and strengthened The Roman Empire. He was The Roman Emperor responsible for the building of Hadrian's Wall in England.

Hadrian was one of the most remarkable and talented of all the Emperors of Rome.... more about Emperor Hadrian
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Gladiators!

Ancient bronze gladiator's helmet first century CE.

Ancient bronze gladiator's helmet first century CE.
London, British Museum.
Source: www.vroma.org


As well as visiting the arena and watching the Gladitorial Combats, the Ancient Romans also enjoyed many board games.

The Romans played a form of Chess, as well as Backgammon, Dice Games, Tic-Tac-Toe and Knuclebones.

We know that these kind of pastimes were popular in Ancient Rome because many gaming pieces have survived and been found at Ancient Roman Sites.


Mosaic of gladiatorial scene in which one gladiator holds up a finger to acknowledge defeat.

Mosaic of gladiatorial scene in which one gladiator holds up a finger to acknowledge defeat; third century CE.
Munich, Praehistorisches Museum.
Source: www.vroma.org


Relief depicting gladiators (bestiarii) fighting animals in the arena (cast).

Relief depicting gladiators (bestiarii) fighting animals in the arena (cast).
EUR (Rome), Museum of Roman Civilization.
Source: www.vroma.org


Model of a Roman Circus.

Model of a Roman Circus.
EUR (Rome), Museum of Roman Civilization.
Source: www.vroma.org Credits: Barbara McManus, 2003


Model of the Roman Colleseum.

Model of the Roman Colosseum.
EUR (Rome), Museum of Roman Civilization.
Source: www.vroma.org Credits: Barbara McManus, 1979


Types of Gladiators:

Samnites: fought with huge rectangular shields, short swords, greaves, and visored helmets.

Thracians: These gladiators carried small round shields and curved swords.

Retiarii: A gladiator who fought with a trident, net, and dagger.

Secutores: Gladiators that had a shield, sword, and helmet with a visor.

Andabatae: Mounted gladiators who fought in armour on horses.

Essedarii: Gladiators that fought from chariots.

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