Roman Fun & Games
Romans had lots of different hobbies to keep them busy. They had games to play at home, plays to go to see and public events for thousands of people to see.
Roman children had seesaws, swings, kites, hoops and toy houses to play with. They also played board games like checkers. The girls had wooden dolls to play with.
The Roman Games
two games that the Romans liked to watch the most were chariot racing and
gladiator fights. Chariot races were the most popular of all. The Circus
Maximus could have twenty-four chariot races a day.
A racing chariot was a small two-wheeled cart, pulled by fast horses. Racing was very dangerous and riders often fell off and were killed. There were four teams : the Reds, Blues, Greens and Whites. People supported one team and cheered on its drivers - just like supporting a football team today.
The Original Gladiators
Gladiators were slaves or prisoners made to fight each other, or wild animals, in front of crowds. These fights were a part of events called "the games". They took place in huge open-air buildings called amphitheatres.
At the end of a gladiator fight the emperor would often give a "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down" signal. This was to show whether he wanted the loser to live or to die.
Animals were brought from all over. Lions, zebra, elephants and giraffes were made to fight each other in the arena. Sometimes the animals were made to attack people.
A Roman Theatre
Roman plays were sometimes copied from Greek ones. There were two types : tragedies and comedies. A tragedy was a play with a sad end. A comedy had a happy ending.
The actors wore masks so that it was easy to tell who they were playing from far away. It must have been difficult to see much from the back seats anyway.
Snacks were on sale at big events, they were usually different kinds of fruit or vegetables.
Parties & Banquets
Rich romans loved to have big parties and feasts. They would eat anything from three to ten courses. They would have a first course of something like olives, mice,salad, snails, oysters and perhaps peahens' eggs. They would then move on to a selection of meat and fish dishes - stuffed dormice was popular. They would like to have something special like ostrich, flamingo, peacock or a wild boar as the centre of their meal. They would then finish off with nuts, fruit, stuffed dates and honey cakes. Wine was drunk all the way through the meal which could go on for hours.
The romans used to keep one room as a vomitorium. Guests who were full and wanted to eat more could go into this room to make themselves sick and then rejoin the group for more food.
They used to have entertainers like jugglers, acrobats and dancers to perform during and after the meal.
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