The Victor’s Return, and the Categories of Games

William Slater

in Epigraphical Approaches to the Post-classical Polis

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199652143
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745935 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Ancient Documents

The Victor’s Return, and the Categories of Games

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Nero is reported to have returned in triumph to Rome from his Greek victories on a chariot through a breach in the wall. This remarkable picture has had more ideological influence than it deserves. It is argued that victors never returned through holes in the wall, that they often did not return at all; when they did, the central action was called ‘introducing the crown’. So-called ‘eiselastic’ = ‘drive-in’ victories in fact entitled one primarily to lifetime pensions, and are an invention of Trajan, whose impractical rulings caused trouble among victors demanding payment, and were modified by succeeding emperors. But the system of monthly pensions for ‘eiselastic’ victory can be followed accurately until 250 ad. Finally, it is argued that the old classical-hellenistic division of elite crown games versus cash games is replaced in the epigraphy by (sacred) eiselastic games versus cash games, and crowns cease to have real meaning save in the iconography, which tends obviously to focus on the crown, long after its elite meaning has ceased. A notorious inscription from Rhodes ca. 200 ad which speaks anomalously of ‘cash crowned games’ is examined and found on correction to fit with the usual division and the thesis proposed above.

Keywords: cash games; chariot; crown games; eiselastic games; elite; Nero; Rhodes; Trajan; victors

Chapter.  13234 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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