Before The Circus Of Today
Before the clowns and the modern trapeze artists of today’s modern circus, the circus of old was slightly different. When I say old I am not talking about 2, 3 even 4 hundred years ago, try more the range of 2,000 years ago! Yes in the time of the Roman Empire there was an annual event that pretty much defined the year for most Romans. This would have been the greatest spectacle one could behold in the old world, well if you were part of the lower class anyway. At the Circus Maximus one could not only revel in all the splendor that he could not afford for a day, they could also develop a very real sense of gratitude toward whichever despot was throwing the games at the time, making the Circus Maximus an effective ancient means of swaying the public opinion about certain political figures or issues..
It Was Called The Circus Maximus!
The first major stadium in Rome built for the Circus Maximus was placed conveniently between the Aventine and Palatine hills, nestled within a small valley. This stadium would usually house the standard fare of the circus which consisted of chariot racing, specialized acts and religious ceremonies. Being that the stadium could accommodate 150,000 spectators, the sight would have been one of amazement for any citizen of the old world.
The stadium was usually designed to seat the more elite members of society on the bottom levels, while box seats were created up top for the host of the games and his friends and guests, the top and mid bleachers were reserved for the everyday men and women. In fact, for the duration of the Roman Empire, The Circus Maximus was the only public spectacle where men and women could both be present.
The Most Popular Events Of The Circus Were The Chariot Races!
The main draw of the circus would have been the chariot races, because of the high level of danger present for those involved, racing was seen as only a little more palatable to many than the Barbary of the Gladiator games. Other events usually proceeded the races, the most important of which would have been the religious ceremonies marking the start of the festivities. Before the Circus Maximus was constructed, what could be considered a circus was no more than a dusty old, decorated town square with some exotic shops, where prostitutes, special performers and jugglers would often be seen pandering for business. Due to the wretchedness of such activities, the grand spectacles put on by the Empire were very official and religious in nature.
Architecture Of The Circus Maximus
The very construction of the later stone versions of the Circus Maximus reflected this very religious nature the old Romans held in such high regard. With architecture and flowing patterns that symbolized and mimicked the movement of the heavens above, The Romans felt the very building itself honored the gods above. This is what made the annual and monthly games so important, each event was like holding a ceremony to a god, and thus by the plebeians being allowed to revel in the festivities they were given the belief that the games were holy, and the leaders who held them divine.
The Circus Has Gone From Religious To Innocent, All In 2,000 Years!
Nowadays the Circus is synonymous with clowns and elephants, trapeze artists and acrobats. But back then the circus was a very religious festivity, and when compared with today, well you can see the difference! Where once these festivities were brutal showcases of devotion, nowadays they are merely a method of distraction for the everyday person.
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