Ludi / Public Festivals (Roman Republic)

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(Maintained by the Curule Aediles)

Historical Context

Ludi were public games held for the benefit and entertainment of the Roman people. Ludi were held in conjunction with, or sometimes as the major feature of, Roman religious festivals.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 regarded as dies nefastus publicus and no business could be conducted. 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. Originally, all ludi seem to have been votive offerings, staged as the fulfillment of a vow to a deity whose favor had been sought. In 366 BC, the Ludi Romani became the first games to be placed on the religious calendar as an annual event sponsored by the state as a whole. Games in the circus were preceded by a parade (pompa circensis) featuring the competitors, mounted youths of the Roman nobility, armed dancers, musicians, and images of the gods. As the product of military victory, ludi were often connected to triumphs.

As religious ceremonies, ludi were organized at first by various colleges of priests; during the Republic, they were later presented by consuls, but became most associated with the responsibilities of the aediles. Although public money was allocated for the staging of ludi, the presiding official increasingly came to augment the splendor of his games from personal funds as a form of public relations. The sponsor was able to advertise his wealth, while declaring that he intended to share it for public benefit. The religious festivals to which the ludi were attached also occasioned as public banquets, and often public works such as the refurbishing or building of temples became associated with these events.

Modern Ludi / Festivals in the Roman Republic

Like in antiquity the populace of the Roman Republic celebrates the ludi. The logistics surrounding these celebrations are managed by the aediles and occasionally the praetors. The activities celebrating these festivals can be online in the form of contests or games, and they also take place offline in the form of provincial gatherings and celebrations. Rituals often also occur in conjunction with magistrates and the pontiffs of the res publica.

Prizes for these contents and games are often awarded by the magistrate overseeing the festivities.

Many of the activities involving the entire Roman Republic community occur at the ludi message board

The annual ludi celebrated are listed below:

  1. Ludi Megalenses - Aprilis 4-10 (organized by Curule Aediles)
  2. Ludi Cerialia - April 12-19 (organized by Plebeian Aediles)
  3. Ludi Florales - April 28-Maius 3 (organized by Plebeian Aediles)
  4. Ludi Piscatorii - Iunius 7-9 (organized by Praetor Peregrinus with assistance from Plebeian Aediles)
  5. Ludi Apollinares - Quintilis 6-13 (organized by Praetor Urbanus with assistance from Curule Aediles)
  6. Ludi Romani - September 5-19 (organized by Curule Aediles)
  7. Ludi Plebeii - November 4-17 (organized by Plebeian Aediles)

Ludi with Movable dates:

  1. Ludi Compitalicii (four days long) - December 18 - January 4th (organized by Curule Aediles with assistance from newly elected incoming Plebeian and Curule Aediles starting term on January 1st)

Upcoming Ludi

Please see the web pages dedicated to individual upcoming ludi for specific details of the celebrations:

In honor of the signing of the Declaration of Foundation of the Roman Republic. Also in honor of the principle deities of the Roman government of antiquity, the Capitoline and Archaic Triads (Iupiter, Iuno, Minerva, Mars and Quirinius).

Past Ludi


  1. None yet - old ludi pages to be listed here