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Make Chariot Racing Your Favorite Pastine


Daring chariot drivers and their four-horse team race seven laps around a 2,000 foot-long sand track, hitting speeds of close to 40 miles per hour on the straightaways and almost that fast around the gilded column, the meta, the hairpin turn for each lap. General admission is free to the poor so everyone, man or woman, slave or freedman, can bring or rent a pillow and sit in the stands. They can also buy a program with a list of the horses (each with its name, breed, and pedigree) and drivers, their records, and the betting odds for each team. A centenarius, a horse that’s won at least a hundred races, could be more famous than its driver.


The greatest excitement is when a team captures the inside track or there’s a spill or crash, but eventually, the spectators calm down. A troupe of musicians materializes to entertain the fans while one crew of slaves draws awnings over the seats for the wealthy. Other crews rein in the fallen driver’s horses and clear away his crushed remains and the debris from his wrecked chariot. They rake the track to level its surface and cover the blood-soaked sand and oysters of flesh. Nothing can stop the flies and rats, but to mask the acrid stench of the flesh, blood, and ordure baking under the relentless sun, another crew heats the aromatic cones of the stone pine trees planted for that purpose around the arena.


You too can be a charioteer. Read The Deadliest Lie and drive your imaginary horses to victory. Just click here.

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