CHARIOT RACING, races using chariots
drawn by horses or other animals. Double or quadruple
teams used in ancient times were usu. made up of horses
or foals, but also of mules or even donkeys. In the Gk.
tradition, quadruple-team races were called >TETRIPPON,
while the Romans called them quadrigas (>QUADRIGA RACES).
Double-team races were called >SYNORIS, and were divided
into adult horse races (>HIPPON), foal races (>POLON
SYNORIS), and mule races (>APENE, also, officially,
synoris hemionon). However, chariot races were known not
only in Greece and Rome. Two-wheeled combat chariots were
also used by ancient Egyptians and Assyrians, as testified
by numerous records, murals, bas-reliefs and sculptures.
It seems a fair guess that spontaneous races used as military
exercise were also known in those cultures. Another type
of combat cart developed among the Brit. Celts. However,
the information we have on Celtic chariots is only fragmentary;
see >CELTIC CHARIOT RACING. Julius Caesar is one writer
who mentions Celtic combat carts, stressing the exceptional
agility the Celts showed, which means they could not have
practiced chariot driving exclusively during battles.
Caesar liked the chariots so much that he ordered them
to be brought to Rome. They were used in >GLADIATORIAL
FIGHTS by the so-called essedarii (gladiators of a kind,
introduced by Caesar and called so from the Latin word
for Celtic chariots, essedum).