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horse- and chariot-races  

Sinclair W. Bell, Jean-Paul Thuillier, and Carolyn Willekes

From the Olympian Games to the modern film Ben-Hur , horse- and chariot-races have proven a potent and enduring symbol of the agonistic culture of Classical Antiquity. Similarities did exist between Greek, Etruscan, and Roman cultures: equestrianism of all forms, due to the expense involved, had aristocratic overtones. But in contrast to the Greeks’ equal passion for mounted horse races and chariot racing, Romans strongly favored the latter, which they developed under the primary influence of the Etruscans and expanded into an empire-wide, professionalized industry.The horse was a significant status symbol in the Greek world, as in the Etruscan and Roman worlds.1 This was due in large part to the cost of purchasing and maintaining equines (see horses), as few regions in the Greek peninsula were suitable for large-scale horse breeding, with regions such as Thessaly and Macedonia being notable exceptions.2 The importance of the horse and horse breeding in Thessaly is evident from the frequent use of equine and equestrian iconography on coinage, including images of mares and foals, as well as horses in naturalistic poses (.