Ancient Roman Games

Entertainment and Games are what the ancient Romans loved with the whole of their hearts. They found games and entertainment as means of expressing themselves and also as a means of escaping from unpleasant realities.

The Roman aristocrats and rulers used these games as a device, so as to empower and increase their political ambitions and prestige thereby setting up several game activities in great venues of high Capacity.

It is known that most special and magnificent structures (such as amphitheaters) in ancient Rome where built for entertainment purposes and the largest of all entertainment structures was known as The Colosseum which had a capacity of 50,000 people and even more.

Most games in ancient Rome were considered ferocious and bloody. In early times, they occurred mostly on funerals or remembrance of the dead but as time went on, they occurred during birthday celebrations and also when celebrating victories.


  • One of the most recognised games was the chariot racing and most highly prestigious ones took place in Circus Maximus, one of the popularly known amphitheaters in ancient Rome. In the third Century CE, cities like Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandra built their own circuses of which this spectacular event was hosted. They were several types of races, some charioters raced as a team and the race which most people anticipated the most was the race for champions which only prominent racers were eligible for, and had the tendency of becoming millionaires.

In  the 2nd century CE one of the popularly known racers in ancient Rome was Gaius Doicles Appuleius who emerged as a winner in 1463 races.

  • Another game in ancient Rome that was considered ruthless and bloody was the gladiators Contest. However, this game attracted the interest of rulers and this made them invest their wealth and resources into this game thereby using it as a tool so as to gain the peoples attention. In the city of Rome, Magistrates do exhibit gladiator shows as a reward for political success. Across the empire, there are cities who frequently organize local contests in order to show their  allegiance with the Roman tradition and to also celebrate notable occasions such as an Emperor’s visit.
  • Apart from gladiators contests and chariot races, Amphitheaters in Rome hosted events which involved the use of wild, ferocious animals captured from far regions in the Roman Empire. Animals were made to attack each other and in several occasions, they were organised to fight against humans. Many of these animals were given names which made them famous far and wide.
  • Most popular scenes were also produced in Roman theatres and this was as a result of conventions created by the early greek tragedy and comedy. Essential additions of the Romans to the created formats include the employment of more fluent actors and an elaborate stage background. Theatres were  widely recognized throughout the Roman period whereby noble men sponsored  productions. The most famous  theatre format display was the Pantomime where the actor dances and performs following simple musical back-ups which were animated by classic theatres.
  • An interesting event the public also loved to watch back then was the killing of criminals. This was done by setting up deadly and untamed animals on accused criminals (Damnatio ad bestias) or organizing them for a fight against well armed and skillful gladiators and in some cases, they are made to fight against one another. Other methods of criminal execution includes crucifixion on wooden pillars or setting them ablaze at the stake, with prisoners wearing an outfit imitating a character from the mythology of the ancient Romans.

Fun Facts About The Ancient Roman Games

  • Chariot races were very risky. There were several incidents of severe crashing and on most occassions, riders end up getting extremely injured or killed.
  • Spartacus (a gladiator slave) led a rebellion of slaves in 73BC.
  • Sometimes during the gladiator contests, gladiators were allowed to stop for a while in order to get a drink or some rest.


  • Question: Who emerged as a winner in the 1463 races?
    Answer: Gaius Doicles Appuleius.
  • Question: Who led the rebellion of slaves that held in 73BC
    Answer: A gladiator slave named Spartacus led the slave revolt.
  • Question: Which is the name of the largest entertainment venue in Ancient Rome?
    Answer: The name of the largest entertainment venue is the Colosseum.
  • Question: How were criminals executed in Ancient Rome?
    Answer: Criminals were executed by setting them up against wild animals, gladiators, against themselves, by crucifixion or by burning them at the stake.