Three bronze strigils with scenes from the Roman Circus
Roman, about AD
From Torre Annunziata, Campania, Italy
Part of a Roman sportsman's kit
This set of strigils is decorated with scenes from the Roman Circus, where chariot-races took place that attracted huge crowds. The scenes were stamped into the metal and inlaid with silver, and show a variety of aspects of the Circus. On one side is an altar with festoons and seven eggs on top, referring to dedications made by those competing; then follows a biga (a two-horse chariot) driven by a charioteer with a cap and holding a stick; and finally three pyramid-shaped markers on a plinth denoting the end of the spina, the barrier down the middle of the course. On the other side are similar markers, a circular domed temple, an altar with a group of the goddess Cybele and a lion, an obelisk and another altar.
This prestigious set must have belonged to a successful or at least a wealthy sportsman, with a keen interest in chariot-racing or perhaps himself a winning charioteer.
E. Köhne and C. Ewigleben (eds.), Gladiators and Caesars: the po (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)
J. Swaddling, The ancient Olympic Games, 3rd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 2004)
Length: 25.000 cm
Length: 25.000 cm (approx.)
GR 1856.12-26.889-891 (Bronze 865)
Bequeathed by Sir William Temple