Ancient Formula One

Then, at the sound of the bronze trumpet, off they started, all shouting to their horses and urging them on with the reins. A stirring description of the Chariot race at the ancient Olympics was written by Athenian tragedian, Sophocles (496 to 405BCE). He describes why this spectacular event remained popular throughout antiquity. Chariot racing has its modern equivalent in Formula 1 car racing. It combined thrills; spills, crashes and fatalities. The glory and prestige attached to victories in chariot races were of huge appeal to both states and individuals. Only a wealthy aristocrat could equip and maintain a chariot and horses and they were often buried or cremated along with him. Excavations have shown this took place as early as the Mycenaean period in Greek history. The Romans also loved this sport and the Quadriga, atop the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, depicts a chariot drawn by four horses and driven by the goddess Victory.

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