Circus Maximus

model of Circus Maximus

totam hodie Romam circus capit.
"Today all of Rome is at the Circus" (Juvenal 11.197)

Emerging from the shade of the high triumphal arch, you blink in the bright sunlight that shimmers with waves of heat on the long, dusty track stretching more than 600 yards before you. Directly in front the high, curved turning posts block your view, but as you step to one side you can see a long stone barrier that extends down the center of the track, and at the opposite end twelve starting gates are filled with teams of horses stamping and snorting impatiently. Soaring around the track are row upon row of stands packed with more than 150,000 Romans noisily talking, shuffling their race cards, and waiting expectantly for the races to begin. Your eye is caught by the imposing roofed enclosure that rises from the stands on your right, directly opposite the finish line. The spectators cheer as Antoninus Pius, the emperor, enters his box in the enclosure.

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