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p715 Ludi Funebres

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on pp715‑716 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

LUDI FUNEBRES were games celebrated at the funeral pyre of illustrious persons. Such games are mentioned in the very early legends of the history of Greece and Rome, and they continued with various modifications until the introduction of Christianity. It was at such a ludus funebris that in the year B.C. 264 gladiatorial fights were exhibited at Rome for the first time, which henceforth remained the most essential part in all ludi funebres [Gladiatores, p574A]. The duration of these games varied according to circumstances. They lasted sometimes for three and sometimes for four days, though it may be supposed that in the majority of cases they did not last more than one day. On one occasion 120 gladiators fought in the course of three days, and the whole forum was covered with triclinia and tents, in which the people feasted (Liv. XXII.30, XXXI.50, p716 XXXIX.46; Plin. H. N. XXXV.7). It was thought disgraceful for women to be present at these games, and Publius Sempronius separated himself from his wife because she had been present without his knowledge at ludi funebres (Plut. Quaest. Rom. p267B; Val. Max. VI.3 § 12; compare Suet. Aug. 44). These ludi, though on some occasion the whole people took part in them, were not ludi publici, properly speaking, as they were given by private individuals in honour of their relations or friends. Compare Funus, p562.


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