SOME ROMAN BOARD GAMES

T.J. Leary
2014 Akroterion  
Of the many themes treated in clever mock-didactic poems, table-games was one (Ovid Trist 2.485). Yet despite this, our knowledge is small and caution is always wise. What we know, we owe to Ovid,2 to , to the so-called Laus Pisonis (P.L.M. 1.22lf.) and to one or two sources of lesser account. We have, too, the evidence of archaeology, and this is important. The games with which Ovid begins his several lists are the simplest -knucklebones and dice. Knucklebones first -these were rectangular,
more » ... ends rounded and unmarked. One played with four, the worst throw, tenned the "dog" throw, resulting when all sides came up the same. Conversely, "Venus", the highest score, saw each side different.3 One might throw merely for sport, or, although strictly illegal, 4 might game for money.
doi:10.7445/35-3-4-564 fatcat:7lsdpazqzbdkjmrxitxrf2bj54