Roman Chariot   by A. Santini from ISAC Statue, Italy
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Roman Chariot


Small Roman Chariot

A. Santini

Bonded Cararra Marble

 White, As Shown


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It was as though Rome had gone mad for entertainment. Emperors continued to proclaim feast days until half of the year was taken up by holidays. Races were held over the broad empire. In Rome they were to be seen in the Circus Maximus where 260,000 spectators were often present to see the dare-devil charioteer race seven times around the perilously tight track. The competition was fierce as the charioteers urged their horses onward; as the drivers attempted by any ruse to throw a competitor into a spill; as the sparsor at one of the turns threw water onto the smoking overheated wheels. The pounding hoof beats, the tumult from the mob, the ceremonial splendor of the setting, all contributed to the spectacle. The drivers were skillful and they risked their lives for high stakes -- the palm and wreath of victory and great sums of money to the winner. It is said that Diocle, during his racing career, won nearly nine million denri (approximately twenty-six million dollars in our modern currency.) Lew Wallace describes such a race in his well-known novel Ben Hur.

The chariot in this spectacular statue was copied from a Roman chariot which F.A. Franzoni reconstructed in the seventeenth century from actual pieces which had been found. It is now to be seen in The Vatican Museum in Rome. Equestrian statues have for centuries been a supreme challenge to sculptors. The skill manifested in this work is apparent in the anatomical accuracy of the rendering of the two horses and the human figure, the realistic detail of the chariot and the complete grace of the composition.