The Secular Games were a religious celebratory event held in Ancient Rome for 3 days and nights. The games were held at the end of a saeculum – a period of time that roughly equalled the maximum human lifespan. In other words, each Secular Games would be celebrated by an entirely new generation, with everyone who had been present at the previous one now being deceased. Romans marked a saeculum between 100-110 years.
The Secular Games were celebrated by an array of different activities, including theatrical performances, songs, sporting events and sacrifices.
The origins of the Secular games are unclear, in Roman myth they were allegedly started when a man called Valesius sought a cure for his sick children. Eventually he turned to the Gods, praying to them for a cure and offering his own life in return. Valesius was commanded by unknown voices to take his children to the Tiber and have them drink the water, which had to be first heated on an altar in the Campus Martius in Rome. Valesius did as he was told and his children were miraculously healed. The unknown voices was revealed to be Dis Pater and Proserpina, underworld deities in Roman mythology. Valesius then made sacrifices to both in thanks for saving his children's lives.
The first ever Secular Games is thought to have been held in 249 BC, although some ancient sources suggest they may have been held earlier than this. Another Secular Games was likely held in 149 BC, at the start of the third and final Punic War. They should have been held again in 49 BC, and may have been planned to – had it not for the Roman Republic being engulfed in Caesar's Civil War. Instead they were postponed indefinitely, and would only be revived decades later by the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, in 17 BC.
Ancient Rome was not all about conquests, gladiator fights and the construction of magnificent buildings. The truth is often a lot less glamorous, such as the Plebeian Secessions.
What were the Plebeian Secessions?
Plebeian secessions were a form of protest, or striking, in Ancient Rome during the early Roman Republic. Plebeians were not allowed to be elected to most public offices and had no say in the matters of the Senate, and thus were often at odds with the ruling class.
Secessions were used during disputes as a peaceful, last resort against the ruling patrician class and involved an organised effort by plebeians to simply put down their tools (or whatever they happened to be holding) and walk out of Rome to let the elite fend for themselves.
Since the plebeian class were responsible for virtually all production and transportation of goods and food, it meant that all commercial trade ground to a halt in Rome, ultimately leading to a knock on effect through out the Roman Empire.