Chapter L - Ludi Spes Vespasianum

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A date had then been set for the 'Ludi Spes Vespasianum' as the further embellishments to the arena were successfully completed
The Goddess Spes
The title for the Games is difficult to translate directly from the original Latin.
Spes was a divine personifications of the concept of 'Hope'
'Spes Augusta' was 'Hope' associated with the capacity of the Emperor as Augustus, to ensure blessed conditions. 
Therefore, the 'Ludi Spes Vespasianum' (or more correctly 'Ludi Spes Titus Flāvius Caesar Vespasiānus Augustus') was a semi-religious set of Games held on the festival of the Goddess Spes, intended to ensure blessed conditions for the Empire under the 'august' guidance of the new Emperor Vespasian.
Celebrations were also being held in Rome - not in the Flavian Amphitheatre which was still to be constructed, but rather in the Forum Romanum - also with gladiatorial contests.
This was in accord with the previously explained concept of such contests being a form of sacrificial shedding of blood (see Chapter XVI - the section 'The Games and Sacrifice').
Titus had chosen to attend the 'Ludi Spes Vespasianum' at Baiae, as Marcus' amphitheatre was the most magnificent, if not the largest that was situated close to Rome - and on a personal note it enabled Titus to supervise the construction of his new villa in the area.

'Continuing Preparations' - Petronius was up that morning at first light, riding fast to the amphitheatre.
Once there, he put slaves on lookout for wagons bringing the remainder of the marble veneers, and the workers to install them.
At the same time Terentius was up early and had positioned himself, along with Nerva, at the main entrance to the villa.
Terentius was there to inform any clients that might arrive that the Salutatio for that morning had been cancelled, as the Dominus was busy making preparations for the upcoming Ludi.
At the same time Nerva handed out a substantially increased 'sportula' - increased partly to placate any client who might be disappointed at not being able to greet Marcus that morning, but also intended to spread a general festive feeling in the upper levels of society in the town.
Marcus, of course was up, and working in his study on various documents and letters, with a very sleepy Aurarius.
Adonios had also risen at first light, in order to make preparations for Petronius' equally early departure for the Amphitheatre.
After that, he and Glaux were left dozing in the first full rays of the sun.
As soon as Marcus had finished his correspondence, however, he sent Aurarius to get Adonios.
They they then met at the main rear entrance of the villa, where the 'magistrum equitum', (master of the horse),  was waiting with their mounts (Marcus was trying to avoid his clients).
The 'magistrum equitum' was very puzzled by the sudden appearance of a large white stallion in the stables, and wanted to know where Marcus had bought it.
"It belongs to this young man.", Marcus said, as Faunus rounded the corner of the stable block.
"He's an important guest, so please take good care of the horse.", Marcus added.
"Good morning, Marcus !", Faunus said perkily, in perfect Greek.
"May I come with you....?", he asked, gently patting his huge mount.
"But you don't know where we're going...", Marcus protested.
"Yes I do....the amphitheatre.", Faunus replied.
"Yes... of course....", Marcus replied, with a note of resignation.
The grooms carefully marshalled the horses, and younger slaves took their place, on hands and knees, beside the horses.
As had been explained before - as far as we can tell, Romans did not use stirrups when riding, so to mount a horse, a man (never a woman), needed a 'step-up', either provided by a kneeling slave (the 'macho way'), or a small stool or step, (decidedly not 'macho').
 And so together, the four of them rode out to the Amphitheatre, with Glaux, who had managed to wake up, fluttering on ahead of them, and of course he the knew the way, and exactly where to go.
As you have also been told before - it was not a long ride to the amphitheatre at Baiae, and in no time at all the four horsemen (not, however, 'of the Apocalypse'), were clattering into the forecourt of the Ludus.
The Apocalypse of John, is a book written just after the present episodes in our story, in 'Koine Greek', (very much, at this time, the language of slaves), that eventually occupied a central place in 'christian' eschatology. In reality, however, it appears to be much concerned with Roman Imperial politics, and in particular the reign, death and possible re-appearance of Nero (material possibly interpolated, however) - and so was a very dangerous book to own, read or discuss, as it was seen by the Roman authorities to be subversive and treasonous.
Roman 'Hipposandal'
The 'clatter' came from the Roman 'hipposandal' (early form of horse-shoe) that increased ground adherence, thereby giving  better traction, and protected the hoof on rough and hard ground. To further improve traction, the bottom of each 'hipposandal' was grooved.  The sole of the 'hipposandal was made of metal, consisting of an oval-shaped cup of thick metal that enclosed and protected the hoof, complete with a fixation system. The device was fastened to the hoof by metallic clips and leather laces.
Petronius was particularly pleased when a Ludus slave informed him of the arrival of the 'Dominus'.
Slaves ran up to the horses in order to help the riders dismount, and to lead the horses away.
Artisans Installing Marble Panels
And so Marcus, Aurarius, Adonios (with Glaux), and Faunus were escorted to the main arena, where the sounds of hammering and sawing told them that the workers were busy installing the marble panels.
Marcus was surprised to see how much progress had been made, but then the artisans from Neapolis had little choice but to work hard under Petronius' relentless supervision.
It was very unwise to slack when Petronius was around - as such foolish behaviour would inevitably be answered with immediate and sever punishment.
At that moment a Ludus slave arrived with the message that the tailors had arrived regarding the tunics for the boys.
Apparently they were not very happy about arriving at the villa, and then being sent to the Amphitheatre.
Marcus, however, managed to placate them with some lavish refreshments, and Petronius offered his office for the tailors to use.
So while Aurarius and Adonios were being measured up, Marcus accompanied by Petronius made a thorough inspection of the newly installed marble cladding, and then watched as the skilled carpenters from Neapolis worked on the removable wooden stand that would accommodate the special guests, and in particular the senators.
Then Petronius suggested that he took Marcus to the thermopolium, (just round the corner - and yes, the same one where they planned Ludi when they were both Gnaeus' slaves).
The purpose of the brief lunch was to discuss the tableaux, which even at such a late date had not been finalised.
"So, are we decided on the death of Hector ?",Marcus asked, looking quizzical and unsure.
"I think so....", Petronius replied.
"Well....fine... but what about the chariot ?", Marcus asked.
That is the only problem, but I have sent for a couple of chariots kept at the villa, and we shall see if there's enough room for them the manoeuvre in the arena.
The scenario of the death of Hector was well known, and here it is paraphrased: Hector chooses to remain outside the gates of Troy to face Achilles. When he sees Achilles, however, Hector is seized by fear and turns to flee. Achilles chases him around the city three times before Hector masters his fear and turns to face Achilles. But Athena, in the disguise of Hector's brother Deiphobus, has deluded Hector. Achilles hurls his spear at Hector, who dodges it, but Athena brings it back to Achilles' hands without Hector noticing. Hector then throws his own spear at Achilles; it hits his shield and does no injury. When Hector turns to face his supposed brother to retrieve another spear, he sees no one there. At that moment he realizes that he is doomed. Hector pulls out his sword, now his only weapon, and charges. But Achilles grabbed his thrown spears delivered to him by the unseen Athena. Achilles then aimed his spear and pierced the collar bone section of Hector. After his death, Achilles strips Hector, and slits Hector's heels and passes the girdle that Ajax had given Hector through the slits. He then fastens the girdle to his chariot and drives his fallen enemy through the dust.
Meanwhile, back at the Ludos,  the tailors were finished with Aurarius and Adonios, and were being taken to the villa to measure up  Aniketos and Euphrainus.
The tailors would then stay at the villa, working on the tunics until they were completed.
And coming the other way - from the villa to the Amphitheatre - were a pair of two horse chariots to be tested in the arena.
Petronius insisted on paying for the lunch, despite the owner's protestations, and the two made their way back to the amphitheatre, intent on giving the chariots a trial.


'Achilles' Chariot' - 

to be continued.......