Abstract: Chariot Racing in Roman Society

Lecturer: Sinclair Bell

In the first century CE, the funeral for Felix, a charioteer of the Red team, made headlines when one of his fans immolated himself on his favorite’s funeral pyre. While an extreme example, fan behavior in ancient Rome is not unknown. Yet where charioteers assumed a highly-visible presence in Roman society and have been much studied, the fans whom they inspired remain largely overlooked and poorly understood. This paper demonstrates how the study of the sports fan, who sat at the fault line between staged spectacles and everyday life, can enlighten us in new ways about the centrality of the Circus to Roman culture.

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James Higginbotham is the Henry Johnson Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology at Bowdoin College, and received his degrees from the University of Michigan (Ph.D.).  His areas of... Read More

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