Græco-Roman Games in California.

Journal of Manly Arts
May 2003

by Arthur Inkersley
Originally published in Outing magazine, February, 1895, No. 5, p. 409-416.

played music of a very novel and original character, specially composed for the occasion by Mr. H. J. Stewart, a Bachelor of Music of Oxford, and composer of "Bluff King Hal" and "His Majesty," operas for which the librettos were written by Mr. Peter Robertson, the dramatic critic of the San Francisco Chronicle. As the band played Roman music, an attendant in a short white tunic, with a scarlet edge, walked up and down the arena, swinging a censer, which filled the house with incense. Shortly after eight p.m. a Mounted Herald, on an unsaddled horse, entered the arena at a gallop. Then came the president of the club, Mr. Wm. Greer Harrison, who, with the voluminous folds of a dark toga thrown about him, and holding in his hand a black staff, acted as Master of the Arena. The Mounted Herald, after blowing a loud blast, retired to the entrance-doors, and, in company with a horseman bearing a gilded Roman eagle with the magic letters S.P. Q. R.-Senatus Populus Que Romanus - inscribed beneath it, headed the procession. The musicians, who came next, wore the skins of wild animals on their heads and backs, and carried strange-looking instruments which were supposed to make the sweet strains which issued from a band of forty pieces sitting on the side of the arena opposite Cæsar's box. The silent band was followed by forty Roman soldiers under a captain, after whom came standard bearers and black prisoners in chains; these were succeeded by a dozen or more Victors, wearing on their brows the laurel wreath of triumph. Then a Prætor stalked proudly forward in front of his attendant lictors, bearing laureled fasces. The sacrificial ox was led by slaves, who found some difficulty in restraining his excitement, and preventing him from kicking out at the sacrifants, who followed with the sacrificial knives. On each side of the procession was a guard of mounted soldiers. Then advanced a group of Senators, most of whom were well-known members of the Bohemian Club, whose appearance in rainbow-hued attire, and with cleanshaven faces, was a source of much joy to their numerous friends. Some of the clubmen had converted themselves into noble Romans so effectually that even a bill-collector would not have recognized them. The resplendent Bohemian

Senators were not a circumstance, however, to their friend and fellow-clubman, Mr. Schroder, who took the part of Imperial Cæsar. As he drove into the arena in his white and gilded car, drawn by four white horses, he looked a typical Roman. Behind him on a white bearskin reclined a pretty page; and the chariot was followed by twelve girl-dancers with castanets in their hands, and clad in white raiment with a border of silver embroidery of the Grecian key pattern. It was not at all clear to my mind which of the Cæsars Mr. Schroder meant to impersonate; perhaps he was an embodiment or re-incarnation of all the Cæsars.

Next followed the Gladiators, divided into three classes, there being forty-one Meridiani, six Retiarii with nets and tridents, and six Mirmillones. Then came the athletes who were to engage in the Olympic Pentathlon; the Runners in short white tunics with blue borders, and blue fillets round their heads; Leapers in gray tunics with broad white borders, and round their brows white fillets; Wrestlers wearing flesh-colored ribbed tights, with broad leathern belts round their loins; Discus-throwers carrying the discus, and borders, wearing red fillets, and bearing Javelin-men in gray tunics with red javelins at the carry. After these came Mr. George A. Adam, Director of the Games, clad in a crimson gold-embroidered tunic and green toga, with a diadem of bright metal round his forehead. In his hand he carried a waxen tablet and a stylus. The procession was closed by Mounted Lancers and Four-horse Chariots driven by cavalrymen from the Presidio, the United States Military Reservation. Some military officers had promised to engage in equestrian combats and drive the chariots, and, indeed, the names of one captain and seven lieutenants of the United States Army appeared on the programme, but the work was actually done by corporals and privates.

As the procession marched round the arena, the band played the Grand March from "Aïda" The superb effect produced by the brilliant, varied and picturesque costumes under the calcium light will not easily be forgotten. Nearly five hundred persons took part in the grand march, which was boldly planned and excellently carried out.

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May 2003