Constantinopolitan Charioteers and Their Supporters


Support in sport is certainly one of the oldest human passions. Residents of the eastern Roman imperial capital cheered the chariot drivers The passion for supporting the drivers was common for all groups and social classes. The hippodrome was visited by the representatives of the aristocracy, artisans and the poor of the city alike. The popularity of chariot racing is evidenced by their frequency 66 days were reserved for circenses, that is racing. Organizing the competition along with all the accompanying events has been an essential task of circus factions (demes) In the empire, there were four factions named Blues, Greens, Whites and Reds. These factions were real sports associations, which can be compared to modern clubs. They had significant financial resources at their disposal. Each faction had their own racing team. They paid for and supported a number of drivers, runners, trainers of horses and wild animals, mimes, dancers, acrobats, poets, musicians and singers. They cared for their recruitment and training They also employed caretakers, messengers, artisans of various specialties, grooms, etc Expectations of subjects meant that emperors put great emphasis on the organization of shows and they were actively engaged in them themselves The preparation was personally supervised by the city prefect, and in the relations with the factions the emperor was represented by the praepositus sacri cubiculi. The latter managed the Hippodrome staff. Byzantine supporters, like their modern counterparts, had their idols. The object of their worship, and at the same time the elite among those working on the hippodrome, were charioteers. Outstanding competitors enjoyed immense popularity, just like modern stars of football or volleyball. They had monuments and stelae dedicated to them, as well as poems which praised their achievements. The ceiling in the gallery above the imperial kathisma featured images of famous drivers.


Agathiae Myrinaei Historiarum libri quinque, ed. R. Keydell, Berlin 1967.

Ammianus Marcellinus, Römische Geschichte, ed. W. Seyfarth, vol. I, Berlin 1988.

Baynes N.H., The Byzantine Empire, Princeton–London 1925.

Cameron A., Porphyrius the Charioteer, Oxford 1973.

Cameron A., Circus Factions. Blues and Greens at Rome and Byzantium, Oxford 1976.

The Chronicle of John, bishop of Nikiou, trans. R.H. Charles, Oxford 1916.

The Chronicle of Marcellinus, ed. B. Croke, Sydney 1995.

Codex Justinianus, ed. P. Krüger, Berolini 1900.

Codex Theodosianus, [in:] Theodosiani libri XVI cum Constitutionibus Sirmondianis et leges novellae ad theodosianum pertinentes, rec. T. Mommsen, P. Meyer, Berlin 1971.

Constantini Porphyrogeniti imperatoris De cerimoniis aulae Byzantinae, rec. I.I. Reiske, vol. I, Bonnae 1829.

Dagron G., Naissance d’une capitale. Constantinople et ses institutions de 330 à 451, Paris 1974.

Dagron G., L’organisation et le déroulement des cources d’après le Livre de Cérémonies, „Travaux et mémoires du Centre de recherches d’histoire et civilisation byzantines” 13, 2000.

Dagron G., From the mappa to the akakia: Symbolic Drift, [in:] From Rome to Constantinople. Studies in Honour of A. Cameron, ed. H. Amirav, B. ter Haar Romeny, Leuven–Paris 2007.

Georgii Monachi Vitae imperatorum recentiorum, [in:] Theophanes Continuatus. Ioannes Cameniata. Symeon Magister. Georgius Monachus, rec. I. Bekker, Bonnae 1838.

Georgius Cedrenus, Ioannes Scylitzes, Opere, vol. I, ed. I. Bekker, Bonnae 1838–1839.

Georgius Pisides, Heraclias, ed. A. Pertusi, [in:] Giorgio di Pisidia Poemi, Panegirici epici, Ettal 1960.

Geysen J., Presentation of Victory on the Theodosian Obelisc Base, „Byzantion” 68, 1998.

Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 37 [in:] Patrologia Graeca, vol. XXXVI.

Guilland R., Études sur l’Hippodrome de Byzance, I, Le palais du Kathisma, „Byzantinoslavica” 18, 1957.

Guilland R., L’Études sur l’Hippodrome de Constantinople: l’arène, „Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinischen Gesellschaf” 6, 1957, p. 25–44.

Guilland R., Études sur l’Hippodrome de Byzance, II/1, À propos du chapitre 69 du Livre de Céremonies. Les courses à Byzance, „Byzantinoslavica” 23, 1962.

Guilland R., Études sur l’Hippodrome de Byzance, II/2, À propos du chapitre 69 du «Livre de Céremonies». Les courses, „Byzantinoslavica” 25, 1964.

Guilland R., Études sur l’Hippodrome de Byzance, III, Rôle de l’empereur et des divers fonctionnaires avant et pendant les cources, „Byzantinoslavica” 26, 1965.

Guilland R., Études sur l’Hippodrome de Byzance, IV, Les cources de l’Hippodrome, „Byzantinoslavica” 26, 1965.

Guilland R., Études sur l’Hippodrome de Byzance, V, Les cources de l’Hippodrome, „Byzantinoslavica” 27, 1966.

Guilland R., Études sur l’Hippodrome: les dimensions de l’Hippodrome, „Byzantinoslavica” 31, 1970, p. 1–11.

Hatlie P., Monks and Circus Factions in Early Byzantine Political Life, [in:] Monastères, images pouvoirs et société à Byzance, ed. M. Kaplan, Paris 2006.

Haussig H.W., Historia kultury bizantyńskiej, trans. T. Zabłudowski, Warszawa 1980.

Heucke C., Circus und Hippodrom als politischer Raum. Untersuchungen zum Großen Hippodrom von Konstantinopel und zu Entsprechenden Anlagen im Spätantiken Kaiserresidenzen, Hildesheim 1994.

The History of Menander the Guardsmen, ed. R.C. Blockley, Liverpool 1985.

Ioannes Ephesinus, Historia Ecclesiastica pars tertia, rec. E.W. Brooks, Lovanii 1936.

Ioannis Malalae Chronographia, rec. J. Thurn, Berolini–Novi Eboraci 2000.

Ioannis Zonarae Epitome historiarum libri XIII–XVIII, rec. T. Büttner-Wobst, Bonnae 1897.

Joannes Chrysostomos, Homilia adversus eos qui ecclesia relicta ad circenses ludos et theatra transfugerunt, [in:] Patrologia Graeca, vol. LVI.

Joannes Chrysostomos, Oratio de circo, [in] Patrologia Graeca, vol. LIX.

Josephi Genesii Regum libri quattuor, rec. A. Lesmueller-Werner, I. Thurn, Berolini 1978.

Karlin-Hayter P., Imperial Charioteers seen by the Senat or by the Plebs, „Byzantinon” 57, 1987, p. 326–335.

Kolb F., Ideał późnoantycznego władcy. Ideologia i autoprezentacja, trans. A. Gierlińska, Poznań 2008.

Kostenec J., Öner A.T., Walking thru Byzantium. Great Palace Region, Istanbul 2008.

Leonis Diaconi Caloënsis Historiae libri decem, ed. C.B. Hase, Bonnae 1828.

Michaelis Attaliatae Historia, ed. I. Bekker, Bonnae 1853.

Perí tés hagías Sofías, [in:] Scriptores originum Constantinopolitanarum, ed. T. Preger, vol. I, Lipsiae 1901.

Phillips B.B., Circus Factions and Barbarian Dress in Sixth Century Constantinople, [in:] Avarenforschungen, ed. F. Daim, vol. I, Wien 1992.

Philostorgius, Kirchengeschichte. Mit dem Leben des Lucian on Antiochien und den Fragmenten eines arianischen Historiographen, ed. J. Bidez, F. Winkelmann, Berlin 1981.

Procopius, The Anecdota or Secret History, ed. et trans. H.B. Dewing, London 1935.

Procopius, History of the Wars, ed. et trans. H.B. Dewing, vol. I, London 1914.

Salzman M., On Roman Time. The Codex– Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in late Antiquity, Berkeley 1990.

Saradi H.G., The Byzantine City in the Sixth Century. Literary Images and Historical Reality, Athens 2006.

Socrates, Kirchengeschichte, ed. G.C. Hansen, Berlin 1995.

Strategicon, [in:] Three Byzantine Military Treatises, ed. G.T. Dennis, Washington 1985.

Theophanis Chronographia, rec. C. de Boor, Lipsiae 1883.

Theophylact Simocatta, Historia, ed. C. de Boor, reed. P. Wirth, Stuttgart 1972.

Vespignani G., Il cerimoniale imperiale nel circo (secoli IV–VI). La iconografia nei dittici eburnei, „Bizantinistica” 2, 2002.

Wipszycka E., Historia pewnego zwycięskiego woźnicy, „Mówią Wieki” 1995.

First Page


Last Page