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Join us for a glimpse of the savage splendor and pageantry that was Rome as ordinary living rooms are vicariously transformed into one of the majestic arenas of the ancient world. Hark! Even now the blare of trumpets brings down a grudging calm upon the throng that fills the galleries thirsting for the thrills of the day's competition. This is the Circus Maximus, and assembled here from Spain, Thrace, Judea and the far corners of the Mediterranean are the champions of the ancient world to pay homage to the Emperor and vie for his gold.
From you vantage point behind the matched grays of the House of Gaiius, you watch as the sultry image is broken by the clatter of late-arriving chariots approaching the starting line. To the extreme right is the veteran Phoenician who won his freedom last month in Athens but, like a moth to flame, is drawn back to the circus in search of fame and fortune or a grisly end beneath the hooves of a following team. Next to the line are the chestnut brown Arabians of the Egyptian and the sturdy whites of the Greek from Corinth. But of more immediate concern are the jet black beasts of Messala, the defending champion, but an arm's length away.
Renowned for both his prowess as a driver and his murderous attacks on those who dare contest a corner with him, Messala is both the favorite of the crowd and feared by all who drive in the Circus. And today the hubs of the wheels on his chariot glisten in the midday sun. The Roman is using razor sharp scythe blades -- a cruel threat to any wheel or horseflesh which ventures too near. You are all that stands between him and the favorable inside position at the far corner.
The blare of the trumpets once again stills the crowd and signals that all is ready. The days of bravado, valor and raw courage live again. Circus Maximus is about to begin.