Many rites in the Ancient Roman Religion implied the execution of Ludi or sport activites and games. These activities, surely showing competitive and sporting features, had a remarkable "sacred" value and importance. For this reason the Ludi had the feature of Res Divinae. Usually an agape, supported by an invitatione daemonum, completed the Ludi.
Ludi were usually held in the Circus where the presence of the sacred numerology and symbology was particularly evident. There were three metae named ternae summitates metarum and three altars devoted to the Great Triad. There were five spatia. There were twelve gates from which the carts entered the circus. Seven was the number of the annual Ludi, seven was the number of the rounds of a complete tournment, seven was the number of the Eggs, Tritons or Dolphins to mark the seven curricula. The Egg represented the generating matter and "the potential power" while the Dolphin or the Triton was the symbol of Neptune, the fecundating energy of water.
Everyone attending Ludi perfectly knew the symbolic power of such manifestations. Ludi thus were full of magical forces and energies: for this reason they were preceded by great sacrifices with the invocation of great Divine Forces. This explains also why Romans held the Ludi also in case of great danger of the State and the Community.
In particular, the horse races detained a peculiar role because they evoked the power of the cosmic generating energy: even in this case it should be noted the importance of the October Equus, the sacrifice of the horse dedicated to Mars.
The presence of specific colors added further magical power to Ludi: the White (Ctone-Lunar power) and the Red (Uranic-solar power)
Each meta sudans was considered a "living place" and each altar dedicated to the God Consus was the focal point of Infernal forces: but the presence of altars devoted to Celestial Gods/Goddesses granted the presence of the uranic principle. The Circus thus became a Daemonum Concilium or a Divine catalyst (with specific seats left empty for them).
Hence sport activities and games (even those more violent - munera) were accompanied by great magical and sacred evocations. The final outcome was the Victory of Celestial Forces over the Infernal ones rather than a simple sport success. During the Ludi opening parade (pompa), on sacred carts (tensae), the symbols of the great Deities protecting the State and granting the Pax Deorum were presented: first of all the symbols of Jupiter O. M. (the lighting, the scepter with the eagle, the Golden Crown)
Ludi were sacred to the Goddess Victoria or the sacralization of the Triumphant Force.
These sacred sense and meaning of sports and games have been today completely lost as consequence of the complete dissacration of any human activity and natural manifestation. Nonetheless having even a little understanding and knowledge of this meaning may help in understanting the complex symbology at the base of these ancient events and of the sites where in the past these rites were held. In the same time all this may help us in considering with a different sight these expressions of the human being and, where possible, to correctly integrate our rites with some Ludi maintaining their real value, meaning and sense.