Gaius Appuleius Diocles

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Gaius Appuleius Diocles
Gaius Appuleius Diocles.jpg
Nicknamethe Lamecus
Lamecum, Roman Empire
(now Lamego, Portugal)
Diedafter 146
Career wins1,462

Gaius Appuleius Diocles (104- after 146) was a Roman charioteer, who became one of the most celebrated athletes in ancient history.

Early life[edit]

Gaius Appuleius Diocles was born in approximately 104 A.D in Lamecum, in the Roman province of Lusitania, (now Lamego, Portugal). His father owned a small-time transport business and the family was comparatively well off. Diocles is believed to have started racing at the age of 18 in Ilerda, (today's Lérida, in Catalonia Spain) This first notable victory outside his native land brought him international fame and encouraged him to go to Rome.[citation needed] and quickly gained a reputation good enough to get himself called up to the ‘big leagues’ at the capital of the Roman empire.

Career in Rome[edit]

He became known as the Lamecus and henceforth brought fame and renown to his native ancient city of Lamecum. Within the city, a statue was erected on top the fountain in front of the garden known today as Jardim do Campo, located in the centre of town. Another one of his monuments is located in Neumagen, Germany.[1]

He most commonly raced four-horse chariots and in most of his races he came from behind to win. Diocles is also notable for owning an extremely rare ducenarius, a horse that had won at least 200 races. Records show that he won 1,462 out of the 4,257 four-horse races he competed in and was placed in an additional 1,438 races (mostly finishing in second place). The ‘champion of charioteers’ is one of the best-documented ancient athletes, most likely because he was such a star at the famous Roman Circus Maximus.[2] Being the best in the field also seems to have allowed Diocles to perfect his showmanship. Many of his victories took the form of a ‘come from behind’ crossing of the finish line at the last possible moment. The crowds loved it. Any race with Diocles quickly became the ‘featured event’ of the day. This naturally helped Diocles make even more money.

He had an unusually long career for a charioter, racing for 24 years and represented three of the four most famous chariot racing stables (factiones) in Rome, which were known by the racing colors worn by their charioteers (Reds, Whites, Blues, and Greens). He began driving for the Whites at the age of 18; after 6 years, he switched to the Greens for 3 years, and then drove 15 years for the Reds before retiring at the age of 42.[3]


His winnings reportedly totaled 35,863,120 sesterces, equivalent to 358,631.20 gold aureus or 2,600 kg of gold, allegedly, over $15 billion in today's (2011) dollars based on the cost of living and the median wage of the time, an amount which could provide a year's supply of grain to the entire city of Rome, or pay the Roman army at its height for a fifth of a year. Classics professor Peter Struck describes him as "the best paid athlete of all time".[4]

See also[edit]



  1. ^
  2. ^ David Stone Potter (1999). Life, Death, and Entertainment in the Roman Empire. University of Michigan Press. pp. 296–. ISBN 978-0-472-08568-2.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Struck, Peter T. (2010-08-02). "Greatest of All Time | Lapham's Quarterly". Retrieved 2017-01-16.