Thursday, April 9, 2015

DID ANTINOUS HAVE A DICEY TIME
WITH GAMES OF CHANCE LIKE THIS?


WE wonder what games Antinous loved to play ... and surely dice games such as this were a favourite among many boys and men in the Roman Empire ... as demonstrated by this amazing dice tower which had all the bells and whistles.

Okay, maybe it didn't have whistles. But it certainly had bells.

The Vettweiss-Froitzheim Dice Tower dates to the time when Hadrian and Antinous were touring the provinces.

It was found in Germania near the Roman military fortress at Colonia (modern Cologne) on the Rhine. It's name comes from the modern-day village where it was discovered.

Roman soldiers must have loved it because it was found neatly packed away for protection.

The modern reproduction at left by Steve Wagstaff shows how it would have looked with all its playing pieces.

It was intended to produce a trustworthy throw of one or more dice.

It is an upright, hollow cuboid of copper-alloy plate designed to sit level on a flat surface. 

The top of the dice tower is open so that you can toss dice into it.

And it contains three levels of projecting baffles which would produce random motion in the dice as they fell through the tower.

The dice would then emerge at the base of the tower via a miniature flight of steps. 

The dice, while emerging, would ring three bells which formerly hung above the exit. One of these bells survives intact.

The tower is decorated on all faces with pierced patterns and two short Latin texts are displayed prominently.

The front face of the tower bears the words:

PICTOS VICTOS
HOSTIS DELETA
LVDITE SECVRI

Which may be translated as:

THE PICTS ARE DEFEATED.
THE ENEMY IS DESTROYED.
IT'S SAFE TO PLAY!

Around the top of the three remaining faces is the phrase:

VTERE FELIX VIVAS

Which may be translated loosely as:

LIVE HAPPILY AND HAVE FUN PLAYING 

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