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Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
2016 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This work looks at the charioteers in Ancient Greece and attempts to answer the question who they were, what special roles they may have had in the social network around the chariot races, what social status they earned in the ancient society and how their achievements were commemorized. There are three types of sources used here: literary works of Homer, Pindar and Pausanias, two preserved sculptures of the participants in chariot races and only two vases with inscriptions that disclose charioteers’ identities. Each of the sources conveys specific information, but at times it was possible to cross-check them and use literary description to interpret the preserved sculptures, and vice versa, to complement the descriptions with visual information delivered by the vases. We found that initially the charioteers were the owners of the horses and chariots themselves, especially in the mythological accounts. With time, and notably for the various games organized in Ancient Greece such as Olympic, Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian, the owners started to transfer charioteering to the best of their kin, and finally, to the best on the market, by simply employing the drivers. Homer’s charioteers are the owners themselves. Pindaros’ charioteers continues with the mythological charioteers whose names are all known. His characterization of later charioteers is limited to only four of them, two are family members, and two are professionals. In Pausanias descriptions of the preserved monuments, the charioteers are anonymous. For the sculptured personalities identification of the names can be plausibly hypothesized. The two vases with explicit inscriptions of the names appeared to be made to salute the charioteers. In conclusion, we have found that the most important role for the charioteer was always the same: to achieve fame and glory by winning a race, although the actors were changing: from the owners themselves to the best in the family, to the best on the market. Since chariot races where the domain of the highly privileged class, most of the charioteers remain unknown. The owners raised complex monuments to hail their victories and to preserve them for the posteriority. Care was exercised to dedicate the monuments to gods. In these sculptures, the charioteers were included, but usually as secondary characters, which suggests their subordinate role in the society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 29 p.
Keyword [en]
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Classical Archaeology and Ancient History
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-296842OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-296842DiVA: diva2:940053
Available from: 2016-06-20 Created: 2016-06-20 Last updated: 2016-06-20Bibliographically approved

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