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Ludi (Latin plural) were public games held for the benefit and entertainment of the Roman people (populus Romanus). Ludi were held in conjunction with, or sometimes as the major feature of, Roman religious festivals, and were also presented as part of the cult of state. The earliest ludi were horse races in the circus (ludi circenses). Animal exhibitions with mock hunts (venationes) and theatrical performances (ludi scaenici) also became part of the festivals.

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  • Ludi (Latin plural) were public games held for the benefit and entertainment of the Roman people (populus Romanus). Ludi were held in conjunction with, or sometimes as the major feature of, Roman religious festivals, and were also presented as part of the cult of state. The earliest ludi were horse races in the circus (ludi circenses). Animal exhibitions with mock hunts (venationes) and theatrical performances (ludi scaenici) also became part of the festivals.
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  • Ludi
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  • Ludi (Latin plural) were public games held for the benefit and entertainment of the Roman people (populus Romanus). Ludi were held in conjunction with, or sometimes as the major feature of, Roman religious festivals, and were also presented as part of the cult of state. The earliest ludi were horse races in the circus (ludi circenses). Animal exhibitions with mock hunts (venationes) and theatrical performances (ludi scaenici) also became part of the festivals. Days on which ludi were held were public holidays, and no business could be conducted—"remarkably," it has been noted, "considering that in the Imperial era more than 135 days might be spent at these entertainments" during the year. Although their entertainment value may have overshadowed religious sentiment at any given moment, even in late antiquity the ludi were understood as part of the worship of the traditional gods, and the Church Fathers thus advised Christians not to participate in the festivities. The singular form ludus, "game, sport" or "play" has several meanings in Latin. The plural is used for "games" in a sense analogous to the Greek festivals of games, such as the Panhellenic Games. The late-antique scholar Isidore of Seville, however, classifies the forms of ludus as gymnicus ("athletic"), circensis ("held in the circus," mainly the chariot races), gladiatorius ("gladiatorial") and scaenicus ("theatrical"). The relation of gladiatorial games to the ludi is complex; see Gladiator.
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