Agitatores is a board game with educational purposes. "Agitatores" were the charioteers who ran in the Circus Maximus (or in any other circus), fighting for victory and, quite often, for survival. They belonged to four traditional teams, represented by colours: Green, Blue, White and Red. Their supporters could be true hooligans, but almost everyone in the Roman Empire enjoyed a day at the races once in a while (possibly making a few bets to spice up the thing). Not surprisingly, the best charioteers were acclaimed stars.

The game is in principle very simple. Each player (or group of players) must buy their horses through an auction, hire a charioteer and then take part to the races. Horses and charioteers have special features which can boost the result of the dice (through which the movement of the chariot is determined) or damage the opponents. Only the first place matters!

The educational possibilities of this game are multifold: the chariot races are well attested in Pliny, Ovid, Martial, Silius Italicus, Sidonius and other authors. Agitatores constitutes an effective and interesting "access key" to their works.

Agitatores provides also a lively insight on a social event, the races, of primary importance in Ancient Rome, especially during the Principate (E. Champlin's magisterial biogragphy of Nero -Nero, Harvard 2003, esp. chapter 5- offers a very good insight on the symbolism attached to the Circus). The races played an essential role in the propagandistic policies of the Emperors (not casually living by the Circus Maximus), and no social class in Rome  was indifferent to their fascination, although, for example, the old fashioned senatorial elite felt it necessary to publicly disapprove of it (and privately enjoy it as anyone else!).

As the game is entirely in Latin, it can also be a very versatile tool for the Latin teacher: every horse and charioteer is presented through a Latin text, which must be correctly interpreted in order to buy the best ones. Furthermore, a text taken from the veterinary manual by Pelagonius (a late antiquity vet) explains how a good horse should look like. The cards describing bonuses and penalties are also in Latin.

The game is still a draft, but in the page "A chariot race" you will find an introductory Latin text written by me using the technical lexicon.


Selected bibliography

E. Champlin  Nero, Harvard 2003.

F. Meijer Il mondo di Ben Hur. Lo spettacolo delle corse nell'antica Roma Bari 2009 (original Wagenrennen Amsterdam 2004), which is also a valuable sourcebook.