The Circus Maximus (Latin for great or large circus, in Italian Circo Massimo) is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located in Rome. Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, it was the first and largest Chariot Racing Stadium in ancient Rome. The site is now a public park and retains little evidence of its former use. The Circus could hold over 1/4 of the city's population, over 250,000 people, allowing for this Circus to be a popular viewing place by the Romans. The Circus measured "621 m (2,037 ft) in length and 118 m (387 ft) in width."
The Circus Maximus site was first used for public games and entertainment by the Etruscan kings of Rome. The first version, later rebuilt, was made completely from wood. It is believed that first Ludi Romani (Roman Games) were staged at the location by Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome. Livy also reports that the seventh and last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus ordered the construction of seating benches at the circus. Somewhat later, the Circus was the site of public games and festivals influenced by the Greeks in the 2nd century BC. Meeting the demands of the Roman citizenry for mass public entertainment pieon a lavish scale, Julius Caesar expanded the Circus around 50 BC, after which the track measured approximately 621 m (2,037 ft) in length, 150 m (387 ft) in breadth and could accommodate an estimated 270,000 spectators (many more, perhaps an equal number again, could view the games by standing, crowding and lining the adjoining hills). In 81AD, the Senate built a triple arch honoring Titus by the closed East end (not to be confused with the Arch of Titus over the Via Sacra on the opposite side of the Palatinum). The emperor Domitian connected his new palace on the Palatine to the Circus to view the races more easily. The emperor Trajan later added another 5000 seats, and expanded the emperor's seating to increase his public visibility during the...
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