Ludi Matutini 2761 AUC (Nova Roma)/Ludi Circenses/Finals
Ludi Circenses Finals of the Ludi Matutini 2761 a.U.c.
2:00 PM ~ Live at the Races
Salvete and Good Afternoon Race Fans!
This is M. Verus Paenula with the Aedilician Network REPORTING LIVE and we are back at the Circus Maximus for third and last day of racing for the Circenses Finals Races of the Ludi Matutini, dedicated today to the Goddesses Matuta and Fortuna.
The weather in Rome this afternoon is a comfortable temperature of 77°F (25°C) with mostly cloudy skies. This moderate weather should provide a nice, not too hot or wet, setting for today’s race!
As the spectators gather for the races, everyone is preparing for the opening ceremony. As the processional gathers to assemble, dozens of small girls are gathering together and forming up in the front of the processional. This assembly will be leading the processional march into the circus for the opening of the Semi-Finals races.
Vendors are everywhere offering their goods and wares. One vendor is offering specially-made pottery with daybreak motifs, symbolizing Matuta. Another vendor is offering full-size statuary of the Goddess Fortuna for your gardens. It appears that Factio Albata has bought on of these pieces for the courtyard of their stables as a honor to Consular Marinus. Let’s walk over to the Albata hospitality tent and chariot display and talk to one of the Factio members.
We are here with Aoife of the Silures, one of the top veteran drivers for the Whites. (She smiles in her large, commanding, red-headed barbaric way.) Aoife, can you tell us a little bit about you newly-acquired Fortuna piece?
Yes, we elected to purchase the piece to be placed on the grounds of the Factio Albata Stable to honor my sponsor, Gnaeus Equitius Marinus. We thought the piece would be most appropriate as it is “BIG” and it is of “FORTUNA”. This is important, because one of Marinus’ chariots, the one I drive, is named “BIGA FORTUNA,” so there you have it!
Fascinating, Aoife! Do you think Albata will win today? (Aoife gives a questionable look with those piercing eyes of hers) . . .
Okay, so back to the races!
For those of you who wish to take home souvenirs of the Ludi for your family and friends, there are numerous unscrupulous merchants offering close-out specials of custom merchandise for everyone. That is, if you wish to give any patronage to these mongrels.
Today’s Semi-Finals will consist of the grand finale Finals Race. There are six teams in this chariot race . . . the best of the best! They are a mix of old and new and should prove to be an exciting venue for this afternoon’s final event. Let us now make our way onto the terraces inside for the opening processional.
2:15 PM ~ Opening Processional
Making our way through the crowds, it is evident that everyone in the city has turned out to see the race today! All over the Circus, one can see numerous pockets of red, blue, white and green. Fans have been warned at the gates by the soldiers of Legio XXIII that misbehavior will absolutely not be tolerated at today’s event. Vendors are providing an assortment of snacks and wine to the fans. We are going to take a momentary break to catch some honeyed figs and Falernian before the processional begins.
. . .
We’re back and just in time for the beginning of the opening processional.
As the tubacins sound, the processional enters the Circus and proceeds through the Porta Pompae and down the lanes, we see that the processional is being led by dozens of children with their parents. Today, we have only girls, dressed in white, representing the Goddesses Matuta and Fortuna. The children are carrying small statues of Matuta and Fortuna. They are followed by members of Legio XXIII, who progress down the lanes, breaking off individually as needed from the marching formation upon reaching their appointed posts along the outer track wall. Next comes the Curule Aedile, Publius Memmius Albucius, Quaestor Hortensia and the aedician staff and attendants, followed by the Plebian Aedile and his staff and attendants, then the Praetors, their Quaestors, staff and attendants, then the Censors and the censorial staff, and lastly, the Consules, their lictors, consular staff and attendants.
As the processional makes their way around the far meta posts, the tubacins sound again, and everyone’s eyes are on the Pompa Portae again.
2:30 PM ~ Entrance of the Charioteers
As the tubacins sound, the Charioteers and their teams enter the Circus through the Pompa Portae and begin their processional route around the spina presenting the victors from yesterday’s races. Everyone is standing and cheering loudly.
First comes the Editor of the Games, Quaestor L. Vitellius Triarius, and his driver, Giscon, in the Quaestor’s chariot, Venetus Magnus, leading the procession. The chariot has been fitted with a special rear gate with mounts holding the Nova Roma vexillum, flanked by banners with images of Matuta and Fortuna.
Second comes Factio Albata. In the lead chariot, Vita Brevis, we can see Dominus factionis, G. Equitius Marinus, holding the brilliant white vexillum of the Whites alongside his driver Petronius Gnipho. The Albata fans are standing on their seats saluting Marinus and Petronius Gnipho, representatives for the best of the Whites in this Ludi challenge!
Third comes Factio Praesina. This is a change! Praesina has the largest number of chariots in the race today! In the lead chariot, Velociraptor, we can see Domina Factionis, G. Aurelia Falco Silvana, holding the commanding green vexillum of the Greens alongside her driver, Spandex the Vandal. Next, comes Silvana’s second team, the chariot, Syntarsus, driven by Vindex. Next is Potentia, driven by Drusillus delle Gallie and owned by P. Constantinus Vetranio. Maintaining their same teams since the Quarter-Finals wins, Praesina is committed to winning today. The Greens are cheering wildly, but the Blues are at it again and commence with the usual yelling of “GRASS CUTTERS” at the Praesina chariots and fans!
Fourth, and now the second largest contingent in the races today, comes Factio Russata. The crowds erupt with shouts and yells. Soldiers of the XXIII watch the terraces cautiously and vigilantly for any eruption between rival fans. Almost immediately fights break out on the terraces and extra legionnaires, posted at the top of the stands come down to join with legio forces stationed on the track to break up the melees and restore order on the terraces. Today’s race is a big event and there is a lot of denarii that has been wagered on these teams. Tensions are high, very high!
In the lead chariot, we see Dominus factionis, Cn. Cornelius Lentulus, holding the crisp red vexillum of the Reds, unwavering in the wind, alongside Antropophagus, driving the chariot, Germanica, owned by D. Arminus Brutus. Following them is Attila driving the chariot, Cica, owned by T. Popillia Laenas. Again today, the sound at this point is deafening! The Reds are determined to win this final race, despite the fact that their numbers have dropped on the lanes!
The processional makes their way around the spina and back to the carcers to prepare for the races. Quaestor M. Hortensia Maior and the aedilician staff brief the drivers on the rules of the races and confirm the race schedules with the teams and Circus officials. The charioteers make the last and final adjustments to their chariots and teams, mount their chariots, and prepare for the start of the race. With six chariots on the track, each driver will have to be extra cautious, and, extra smart.
2:45 PM ~ Opening Ceremony
With the preparations finalized, Quaestor Vitellius stands before the crowd with his friend and Propraetor of Provincia America Autrorientalis (the Quaestor’s home provincia), Flavius Galerius Aurelianus, the interim Pontifex Maximus, who will be offering a ritus to Matuta and Fortuna asking for a blessing for the race. The Pontifex Maximus performs his ritus, then Quaestor Vitellius looks to the Consules for the official signal to begin the races. The Consules approvingly nod. Quaestor Vitellius reaches inside his toga and pulls out his mappa. The crowds quieten . . . Quaestor Vitellius looks down to the Porta Pompae. The race officials signal all is ready . . . A gentle breeze is blowing in the Circus Maximus . . . Quaestor Vitellius slowly raises his right arm, holds the mappa still . . . it blows in the wind gently, then . . . with a quick drop downward . . . the charioteers break and the crowd jumps to their feet with a deafening roar!!!
3:00 PM ~ Finals Race
As the mappa falls, the ropes are dropped and the chariots break the line in a fit of urgency. As the dust boils up into the air, gravel and sand are thrown onto the lower terraces as the chariots rush by. ¬¬Vita Brevis, Potentia and Velociraptor make a fast jump out in front of the others and proceed down the lanes like a blazing fury! Following is Germanica, narrowly ahead of Cica, with Syntarsus trailing. Down the straight-a-way it is a run to the first curve. Turning the metae, it is Potentia in the Lead position, with Velociraptor on the inside, flanked by Vita Brevis on the right. Syntarsus meets the curve and lashes Attila, who yields to the chariot and drops back. Germanica pushes on moving out from the spina, preventing anyone from passing him in the curve. Down the lanes they run at a consistent pace to the second curve, which comes and goes with no change of position.
As the second dolphin is turned down, the teams advance down the straight-a-way. Potentia is maintaining the lead position, but now Vita Brevis is speeding up on the straight-a-way and gaining on Potentia. Velociraptor and Germanica are running side by side and are repeatedly stealing the third position from each other. Now Velociraptor is passed by Germanica, with Vindex driving Syntarsus harder toward his rear. Cica is now picking up the pace and closing in. As they approach the first turn, the chariots slide around the meta posts . . . OOOOH! Vita Brevis has cut through and taken the lead position from Potentia. Germanica is running narrowly behind Potentia, then makes a dangerous move, cutting off Velociraptor, causing the chariot to waffle back and forth and almost crashing into Syntarsus! Velociraptor slows the pace a little to recover and is passed on the inside by Syntarsus, who flies by him like a bolt of lightening! Approaching the second turn of the lap, the chariots slide through the curve, and Potentia comes up on one wheel. He took the curve too sharp and almost ended his part in this race.
As the third dolphin drops, it is Vita Brevis, followed by Potentia, then Germanica then Syntarsus, next comes Velociraptor, followed by Cica. Cica now attempts to pass Velociraptor, but cannot make the move work. Down the straight-a-way they advance and Syntarsus launches an attack on Germanica, lashing him repeatedly. One would guess this irritation stems from the near accident almost caused by Germanica in the last lap. Were it not for Vindex being a veteran of the track, he would have surely crashed into Velociraptor! Antropophagus attempts to counter the lashing, but Vindex grabs Antropophagus’s whip and a tug of war is on! Vindex yanks the whip and Antropophagus looses his grip, forcing him backwards into the side of the chariot’s basket. Going into the first turn, Antropophagus looses control of the horses and smacks into the side of the spina wall. The chariot bounces off, but continues a few more feet and rolls over during the turn! Antropophagus is thrown up into the air and luckily lands on the top of the spina wall. Spectators immediately grab Antropophagus and pull the driver over to safety before he rolls off the wall to a sure death down on the sand. Vindex safely negotiates Syntarsus around the turn and blasts down the straight-a-way. Velociraptor and Cica also manage to avoid the mess and safely make their way around the curve and down the straight-a-way. Circus wreckage crews immediately respond to tow the remains off the track before the chariots make their return.
The fourth dolphin falls as the teams round the turn and head back down the lanes. Vita Brevis and Potentia increase their speed in the straight-a-way, moving somewhat ahead of Syntarsus, Velociraptor, and Cica, who are running in a line dangerously close the spina wall. Cica bumps the spina wall and sparks fly everywhere, but it is just friction, and the charioteer drives on. Coming to the first turn, Vita Brevis makes a sharp cut and his left wheel comes a few inches off the ground, but immediately levels out and Petronius Gnipho has made it safely through the turn. Petronius Gnipho is a veteran of the track and he knows when he can push the limits and when he can’t! Potentia makes it through the curve, not as fast as Vita Brevis, which allows Syntarsus to gain some ground in the turn against him. Velociraptor and Cica make the turn, and Cica passes three on the outside! As they move down the lanes, Syntarsus pulls around and up beside Potentia. Vindex lashes Drusillus delle Gallie with his whip, but Drusillus delle Gallie lashes the horses and pulls ahead of Syntarsus and out of the striking range of Vindex’s whip.
There seems to be some confusion as something appears to be happening on the northwest part of the track. As soon as the chariots turn the second curve, a man in a blue Veneta fan’s tunic climbs on top of the terrace wall, jumps down onto the sand, and is running over to the spina . . . carrying a large bucket . . . the crowd is cheering and soldiers are responding to the incident occurring as we speak . . . we will have to wait and see . . .
As the fifth dolphin falls, the chariots come out of the turn in a massed mess. They are running dangerously close to each other. Petronius Gnipho looks back to evaluate his threats. So does Drusillus delle Gallie. Syntarsus is still close behind and Drusillus delle Gallie knows he has to drive harder to avoid the lashes from Vindex, should he fall back in range. As they maintain consistent positions down the straight-a-way, they all ready for the upcoming turn. Vita Brevis takes it a little too fast, but shifts his body weight, leaning over the side of the chariot to prevent it from rolling. Vita Brevis slides wide, but stays on the ground! The Albata fans go crazy on the terraces! Potentia, like Vita Brevis, negotiates the curve too fast, and the left wheel comes up of the ground over a foot. Drusillus delle Gallie attempts to use his body weight, but the chariot is too far into the turn and flips, throwing Drusillus delle Gallie onto the sand! He still has hold of the reins, and the team is dragging him down the lanes, turning him into ground beef! This is disasterous! Publius Constantinus Vetranio watches in astonishment and is yelling down to the Praesina crew to get the team stopped immediately! Praesina members run out onto the track and manage to get the horses diverted to the outside of the track, where they eventually slow down and come to a halt. It appears Drusillus delle Gallie lost his belt knife somewhere in the foray and could not cut himself loose! The Factio medicus and team members load Drusillus delle Gallie onto a litter and quickly remove him from the track, while the Circus crews tow off the wreckage. During all of this, Cica has lost third position back to Velociraptor, who is now running harder than ever to try and obtain the lead, from Vita Brevis. Vindex has the same thought and is attempting to lash Petronius Gnipho as they come into the second curve! But, Petronius Gnipho presses on around the curve as the sixth dolphin is turned down.
Back to the little fat man with the bucket . . .
Our sources on the spina have just informed us that the mystery man, a Decimus Amatius Arvina, was definitely NOT a Russata fan and had planned to vandalize one of the Russata chariots. Our correspondent on the spina advised Amatius had the intention of climbing the spina wall and throwing a bucket of blue paint on Cica, as the chariot slowed to enter the curve. Security troops have removed him from the field. As he was being carried off the track, he could be heard yelling, “I’ll paint that rust bucket! I’ll paint that rust bucket!! Let me at him! Let me at him!!” When questioned, Factio Veneta officials stated that they did not know the man and he was evidently a lunatic! Other sources along the spina have rumored that the man is a part-time livery worker at the Blues stables . . .
Back to the race . . .
Down the straight-a-way they run, Vita Brevis in the lead, with Syntarsus on his tail, followed by Velociraptor, then Cica. All the chariots are running along the spina wall so close I do not think one could fit a piece of papyrus between the wheel hubs and the wall! They come to the first turn, and all the chariots slide around extremely fast. The column of dust on that end of the Circus is so wide and tall that you cannot even see the Triumphal Arch in the center of the turn! Out of the dust bowl come Vita Brevis, narrowly ahead of Syntarsus, then Velociraptor, then Cica. In the straight-a-way, Cica pulls up beside Velociraptor and they exchange words and lashes with each other. Cica manages to pull ahead of three, but Velociraptor will not back off enough for Cica to maneuver in toward the wall to secure the third position. Vita Brevis is maintaining the lead over Syntarsus, as they make it to the Meta Secunda, or the second turn.
The seventh and last dolphin is pulled down as the teams make the turn, driving their teams harder and harder. This is the last lap and there is absolutely no room for error or miscalculation! Into the straight-a-way, Vita Brevis again picks up speed and pulls ahead of Syntarsus for some gain. Syntarsus moves to counter the advance, as Vindex lashes his horses repeatedly. The horses go into a frenzy and speed down the lanes toward Vita Brevis. Velociraptor is maintaining a position on the inside and drives his team hard, really hard. Cica is now loosing ground to Velociraptor as the approach the Meta Prima, or first turn. Vita Brevis and Syntarsus round the turning posts, and speed down the back straight-a-way. Now they are in a lashing match. Velociraptor advances around the turn with Cica a chariot length behind. Cica’s horses simply cannot take the continual driving and have slowed their pace. While still very fast, I don’t think they will be able to keep up. Vita Brevis and Velociraptor are lashing each other hard, and now Petronius Gnipho’s helmet has come off! Now he is mad, really mad. That helmet was a gift from a woman in Corinth, a special woman, but that was in the past, and now it is the present! He lashes Vindex, but has to break off or loose it in the turn. This gives Vindex the advantage and Vindex slows a bit and pulls to the outside some. Vita Brevis hits the last turn with remarkable speed! Petronius Gnipho professionally controls the chariot as it slides through the turn. Once into the slide, Vindex makes a brave, or stupid, move and yanks his team sharply to the left, causing his left wheel to come off the ground about a foot. He manages to drive the chariot into the gap between Vita Brevis and the spina wall on one wheel! The Praesina Fans are out of control and White and Green fights break out all over the stands! The chariots race down the lane towards the finish line. With Syntarsus on the inside and Vita Brevis on the outside, fighting for the Victor’s title, followed by Velociraptor and Cica. As the finish line approaches, the Circus officials are ready for a close finish! As they cross,