Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gambling in Ancient Rome

We know man has been fond of gambling since the beginning of civilization, based on the archaeology, but, most likely, he has been gambling since his intellect developed the capacity. What is it that drives the human desire for gratification achieved when you combine game playing with the award of a prize based on chance? Is it the thrill of earnings without labor? Whatever the motivation, gambling remains a popular human pastime across the ages and into the present day.

In the ancient world, the Romans were inveterate gamblers. All classes participated, from slave to emperor, artisan to Senator. During the time of the Republic, gambling was prohibited except during the festival of the Saturnalia which was held in December of each year. The Saturnalia was a celebration in honor of the Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture and, according to Roman myth, there existed a time when Saturn reigned over the earth and provided a bounty for mankind, who lived in a state of innocence. The festival was an attempt to relive that time by turning convention on its head. Featured was a day of public revelry followed by two days of private celebration within the Roman household. The private celebrations included a “reverse meal” where slaves dined as their masters, possibly even served by them. Dice playing was permitted as another kind of reversal because that which was normally unlawful was now permitted.

What were these dice games? Generally there were two types: games with dice only and games with dice and a board containing pieces that were moved by throws of dice. The boards typically had 36 squares with various symbols such as squares, leaves, letters, and crosses marked on them. Three die, identical to the six sided type we use today, were thrown. The luckiest throw was three sixes or eighteen “spots”. Fines were paid or pieces moved backward if the dice thrown showed one or more single dot.

Outside of the Saturnalia, and despite the official government position, gambling was a daily activity for the Roman people. The ruins of a tavern near the praetorian camp held a sign that said, “Good food and gambling within.” Tables have also been found with wording inscribed on them – “make room for better players.”


One imagines “loaded” dice being employed by professionals who made a living taking other people’s money and frequent fights must have resulted from attempts at cheating. There is graffiti on a wall in Pompeii where the writer states with pride, “I am skilled enough to win without cheating.” The ruins of a tavern in the same city have a cartoon painted on the floor. In the first picture, two men sitting on chairs with a game board sitting on their knees. The first man says “EXSI” (I am out). He’s thrown the dice. The second man points and says “NON TRIA DV AS EST” (not three points but two). In the second picture, the men are standing up as if to fight over the score, but the tavern keeper steps in. “ITIS FORIS RIXSATIS” (Leave my place if you want to fight).

Augustus was a joyful gambler and made a practice of playing during all Roman festivals. A letter written to his son-in-law, Tiberius, states “We have passed, my dear Tiberius, the feast of Minerva, in great merriment, gambling every day and warming up to the occasion. Your brother distinguished himself by the great noise he made, and, after all, he did not lose very much, for fortune turned in his favor just as he faced ruination. I have lost thirty thousand sesterces, because, as usual, I was liberal to my guests and partners. Had I taken all that was due to me I would have cleared fifty thousand.”

After Augustus, the rise of imperial Rome produced a drop in moral standards. Horace states that “the young Roman is no longer devoted to the manly habits of riding and hunting; his skill seems to develop more in the games of chance forbidden by law.” We know of at least three laws forbidding gambling, the most notable being the Lex Talaria, but we don’t know when these laws were passed. We do know, however, that the Roman term for gambling was “Alea” and early, when the pretense of morality mattered, “Aleator” was used to describe a despicable person.

Laws or no laws, the Roman people played on because nothing could dent the attraction its people had for games of chance.

From a gender standpoint, women would have been excluded from any gambling activities with men but one can assume the richer ones played in groups like the men did.

If you’re interested in reading more about women and gambling, check out the following link:

46 comments:

thesongparade said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tanka34 said...

gambling a sign
of capitalism ..
but
law making by the gamblers
..a true enlightenment idea?



the nature of people to risk
in effort to improve material well
being while having
limited legal opportunities
for improved material well being
or freedom they turn to vain risk taking..
the Etruscans material well being...
was overtaken by moral forces..
Roman culture ...armies
the USA is a target of persuasive
moral forces continuing

Glenda Ledbetter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Enjoyed this post
Cá cược thể thao

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mtom said...

Can I take part of your post to my blog 먹튀사이트

Retaile Ecaper said...

Love your site. have you got the theme you used that you can share? 먹튀사이트검증

Anonymous said...

The blog and data is excellent and informative as well global csgo

Night King said...

I recently wished to create a quick comment so that you can express gratitude to you personally for all wonderful pointers you’re posting at this site. Time consuming internet investigation has by the end of the day been rewarded with good quality approaches to show to my guests. I would say that a number of us prospects are really endowed to result from an outstanding network with lots of marvellous people with useful hints. I find myself quite privileged to get used your webpages and appear forward to really more fabulous minutes reading here. Many thanks for lots of things. daftar situs judi slot online terpercaya

darren sammy said...

You will not be viewed as a tennis sweetheart on the off chance that you don't have a clue what occasions are global. With this occasion you can place Bola88 bets online. judi bola bola88

Unknown said...

Really I enjoy your site with effective and useful information. It is included very nice post with a lot of our resources.thanks for share. i enjoy this post. Smart Ways to Win Tangkasnet Online

darren sammy said...

Much obliged to you so much Love your online journal.. spbo

relxindo said...

Loving the information on this web site , you have done outstanding job on the articles . Prediksi HK

Yousufzai said...

I’d need to talk to you here. Which isn’t something I do! I like reading a post that could get people to believe. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment! ceme online

mtom said...

Pretty element of content. I just stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your weblog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your feeds or even I achievement you get admission to consistently rapidly. sbobet88

Christina Porter said...

Togel adalah permainan angka. Ini terdiri dari dua digit, tiga digit, atau empat digit. Orang-orang kemudian menggunakan statistik dan metode yang berbeda untuk memprediksi angka-angka yang muncul. judi togel omi88 asia

bosqqpro said...

I enjoy your style of writing. I’m wondering in the event you might take a short look at my article and let me know what you think regarding my style. I am not a natural English speaker and so this is why I ask. Live Draw Sydney

Poker Online said...

sboqq.io Domino 99, Agen Bandarq, Domino Qiu Qiu, Capsa Online. at 45.67.228.79 sboqq

Milesopedia said...

you have a fantastic weblog here! do you want to make some invite posts on my own weblog? Data Kamboja

Deepa Psikologi said...

As I website possessor I think the subject matter here is real wonderful, appreciate it for your efforts. joker123

mtom said...

nice website I like it so much and it deserve some respect https://128.199.237.24/

Situsqq Terbaik said...

Some truly fantastic posts on this web site , appreciate it for contribution. http://139.59.253.208/

nasionalqq said...

Hey! Good stuff, please keep us posted when you post something like that! http://128.199.99.176/

sydneyhotshot said...

I respect your piece of work, appreciate it for all the interesting content . http://139.59.99.22/

Ac Jitu said...

I am really enjoying the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems? A number of my blog audience have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any ideas to help fix this issue? Agen Togel Terpercaya

Siscom said...

Nice post. I find out something much harder on different blogs everyday. Most commonly it is stimulating to read content using their company writers and use something from their site. I’d want to use some while using content on my own blog no matter whether you do not mind. Natually I’ll offer you a link in your web weblog. Thank you sharing. Bandar Togel

Go Lagu said...

I would really like you to become a guest poster on my blog.*”,~, Situs Togel 2021

gamingpcdesks said...

What Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It positively useful and it has helped me out loads. I’m hoping to give a contribution & aid other users like its helped me. Good job. Togel Online Terbesar

UMA said...

Normally I do not learn article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do it! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, very great post. dominoqq online

mtom said...

Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for your provided information. cool desktop bandarqq

mtom said...

Just before you decide to create your own checklist to add an idea associated with what camping checklist ought to. gaple online

liperk said...

Winning of one inspires thousands others to stay in the game. liga228

mtom said...

Wow! This can be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Magnificent. I’m also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your effort. Situs Slot 4d Terbaru

Bet88 said...

sbobet88
poker99

UMA said...

I have been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I eventually stumbled upon this website. Studying this info So i’m satisfied to exhibit that I’ve an incredibly just right uncanny feeling I found out exactly what I needed. I most indubitably will make certain to don’t fail to remember this website and provides it a look a continuing. qq

tripcentre said...

When it is important to possess your current mindset guided toward the full-time successful ecommerce business, it truly is helpful, specifically first inside your Online job, in the studying blackberry curve, to test one or two packages with your quit period. Find the feel belonging to the Online marketing industry as well as together study a little about HTML, Scripts, producing interesting photographs and even building your very first web site! This may most end up being realized like a ‘spare time’ sctivity. Do not carrier the management right until you have the particular confidence within your total capacity in order to make normal income. namatoto

Oxglow said...

Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future. Numerous people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers! Bandarqq

mtom said...

This web page is actually a walk-through it really is the information you wished in regards to this and didn’t know who ought to. Glimpse here, and you’ll definitely discover it. slot online terbaik

mtom said...

Hi there, I discovered your website by way of Google even as looking for a related subject, your site got here up, it appears great. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks. prediksi togel milan

whiskyonlinesupply said...

hi!,I like your writing very much! share we communicate a lot more about your post on AOL? I require a specialist on this area to solve my problem. Maybe that’s you! Looking forward to see you. megawin77

Unknown said...

토토 사이트를 찾으려는 사람들은 신뢰할 수 있는 플랫폼 중 하나이기 때문에 Muktupolis 커뮤니티를 이용해야 합니다. 한국 플레이어는 이 특정 커뮤니티에서 권장하는 안전한 스테이킹 플랫폼을 활용할 수 있습니다. 누구든지 이 특정 먹튀 사이트를 방문하여 토토 사이트에 대한 자세한 내용을 얻을 수 있습니다.

power said...

Find the best Bet Domains on SportsBettingDomain.com, Bet domains and gambling domains for sale. Bet Domains

Doa QQ said...

hi!,I like your writing very much! share we communicate more about your post on AOL? I require a specialist on this area to solve my problem. Maybe that’s you! Looking forward to see you. https://www.situslayarqq.com/

onlinesawari85 said...

I have figured out some important things through your blog post. One other subject I would like to talk about is that there are plenty of games in the marketplace designed specifically for preschool age kids. They contain pattern acceptance, colors, dogs, and designs. These generally focus on familiarization as opposed to memorization. This makes children and kids occupied without having the experience like they are studying. Thanks result totomacau