Brill’s New Pauly

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(5,211 words)

I. Architecture

[German version]

A. Definition

The circus was the biggest of all Roman places of leisure and was initially and mainly used for races with chariots drawn by teams of four or two (quadrigae or bigae). The canonical circus consisted of a long, comparatively narrow racetrack (c. 450 × 80 m; arena, from harena-, ‘sand’), on both ends of which three cones (metae) on a platform served as markers for turning. The track led round a barrier that marked the central axis (euripus, Greek εὔριπος (eúripos), ‘water ditch’; later also spina-, ‘ba…

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Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) and Hönle, Augusta (Rottweil), “Circus”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 10 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510

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