What Sports Did They Do In Ancient Rome

A long time ago in Ancient Rome, people took part in various sporting activities and games. An Integrated element of Roman culture, it is widely accepted that physical activities were an essential part of the daily lives of citizens. Ancient Romans engaged in games of physical prowess like running, boxing, and wrestling, to name a few. The main physically demanding activity for Romans was chariot racing. One of Rome’s most popular forms of entertainment was various types of ball games. This included a game similar to tennis, played with a hooked racket and a soft, spongy ball. Another popular game was the kind with two teams, which somewhat resembled volleyball. The athletes of ancient Rome were considered the best in the world, winning prizes and glory. Ancient Roman sports were very differences to the sports of modern times, but their significance to the culture and their impact on their society remains unchanged.


A significant part of ancient Roman sports that stands out is gladiator games. Gladiatorial games were usually held in an amphitheater during public festivals, characterized by a fight between two, usually armed competitors. Gladiators weren’t just athletes but also a major source of entertainment at the time. Thousands of Gladiator fights were held all over the Roman Empire, but most took place in the city of Rome itself. Gladiators were either former slaves or prisoners of war who, for a variety of reasons, chose to fight in the arena In order to win their freedom.


Another type of sport favored by the ancient Romans was hunting. Hunting was is popular activity for Roman men, who hunted for a variety of wild animals, including bears and boars. Emperor Augustus started a tradition of hunting parties attended by elite members of the Roman society. Hunting was also used as a training exercise. Roman Soldiers practiced their skills by taking part in hunts and shooting arrows at fleeing prey. This was done to keep them in top physical condition, as the ability to run long distances was necessary to catch up with the animals they were hunting.

Sports and Leisure

Since the ancient Romans enjoyed physical activities as entertainment, sports became part of Roman leisure. Games and competitions such as running, chariot racing, and ball games were held at the home of wealthy people, or in places such as walkways, town squares, and parks. Citizens enjoyed watching the races, games, and death matches, and bet on the outcomes. Clothing was an important part of Roman sports and games, as the wealthy citizens wore fresco-dyed clothes to distinguish themselves from other viewers. Since the clothing was expensive, only wealthy people could own it, as it showed off their financial status.

Roman Stadiums

It is believed that the Roman love of sports originated in the Greek athletic competitions. When the Romans conquered Greece, they adopted the practice of holding games and included them in the festivities of their own festivals. Early Roman stadiums were gradually built out of earth and timber. The stadiums were most often used for chariot racing and other athletic events. The design of these stadiums was typically oval or circular, although occasionally rectangular and timber-framed. Iron gates were used to separate the people from the athletes and served to establish an atmosphere of grandeur and respect for the games.

Roman Athletic Clothing

The athletes competed in an array of clothing. The most common outfit was the subligaculum — a pair of briefs worn under a tunic or a loincloth — which was made of linen and covered with the appropriate colors of cloth to denote individual teams and warriors. Clothes used in the competitions were usually highly ornamented and uncomfortable. Athletes also wore arm and leg bands to protect them and keep them comfortable while competing. Other common attire included protective armor and helmets, which were designed to prevent injury.


Ancient Roman sports were a very important part of their society. Hundreds of years ago, Roman citizens were entertained by battles, races, and ball games. They watched their favorite athletes and admired their prowess and bravery. Gladiator fights, hunting, and ball games made up a large part of the Roman entertainment world. competition was fierce, but the athletes who emerged victoriously were elevated to the region of legends. Clothing was also an important element, as the rich wore expensive garments to signify their wealth and status. Roman stadiums grew in size and complexity, as the games and competitions held within them captivated thousands at a time.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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