Then the old lion may spring his trap, and who, save Ben Joreb, will know that I ever sat with traitors. And as for the priest, I shall warn him. I know that he is weary of Antipater and will take a share in the new enterprise." It was the day before the nones of November in Rome. The emperor had returned to his palace after opening the Ludi Plebeii.
But unfortunately we know very little of the history of these ludi. If we may suppose that the Ludi Plebeii were instituted just before the second Punic war, it is interesting to note that three other great ludi were organised in the course of that war, no doubt with the object of keeping up the drooping spirits of the urban population.
Thus the idea was kept up that the greatness and prosperity of Rome were especially due to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, who, since the days of the Tarquinii, had looked down on his people from his temple on the Capitol. The Ludi Plebeii in November seem to have been a kind of plebeian duplicate of the Ludi Romani.
It was of no use to pass laws and make declarations and proclamations for the reform of the common plebeii, the poor man pleaded, so long as the mentors of the laws were themselves corrupt. His argument was spiced with amusing anecdotes to show the prevalence of swearing and drunkenness among members of the judicial bench.
The games were given jointly by the respective pairs of colleagues, the Ludi Romani being under the guidance of the curule, the Ludi Plebeii under that of the plebeian aediles. Had these remained the only annual shows, the cost to the exhibitor, although great, would have been limited, But other festivals, which had once been occasional, had lately been made permanent.
Assembly's Catechism. Plebeii videntur appellandi omnes philosophi qui
The Romans seem always to have been fond of horses and racing, though they never developed a large or thoroughly efficient cavalry force. Of the Ludi Plebeii we do not know the original character, but it is likely that these also began with circenses, the regular word for chariot-races.