List of the Roman Ludi Scaenici

The Ludi That Included Theatrical Performances

Circus Maximus
The Circus reimagined. Heritage Images/Contributor/Getty Images

The ludi scaenici were the Roman games with a theatrical component. Like the circus games (ludi=games), which started earlier, the ludi scaenici were essentially religious festivals with entertainment.

The Punic Wars, the Greeks, and Roman Drama

While the Romans may have had songs, dance, farce, or other musical entertainment at the early games, the performance of actual Roman plays started after contact was made with the Greeks during the 1st Punic War (264-241 B.C.).

They were performed the year following the conclusion of that war. The first playwright of Rome was the 3rd century Livius Andronicus. 

Name of the Ludi:God Honored:Month Celebrated:Magistrate in Charge:Length of Games:
Ludi RomaniJupiter Optimus MaximusSeptemberCurule Aediles(Source: Frank Bernstein, Ludi publici: Untersuchungen zur Entstehung und Entwicklung der öffentlichen Spiele im republikanischen Rom. Historia Einzelschrift 119. HistoriaEinzelschriften 119. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1998.)
September 5-19, starting 509 or 507 B.C. (There would not have been anything resembling dramatic performances so early.)
Ludi PlebeiiJupiterNovemberPlebeian Aedile(Source: Frank Berndstein, Ludi publici, Stuttgart 1998)
November 4-17, starting c. 220 B.C.
Ludi ApollinaresApolloJulyCity Praetor(Source: Frank Berndstein, Ludi publici, Stuttgart 1998)
July 6-13, starting 208 B.C.
Ludi MegalensesMagna Mater [Cybele]AprilCurule Aediles(Source: Frank Berndstein, Ludi publici, Stuttgart 1998)
April 4-10, starting 191 B.C. See Megalesia for more on these dates.
Ludi Ceriales (Cerealia)CeresAprilPlebeian Aedile(Source: Frank Berndstein, Ludi publici, Stuttgart 1998)
April 12-19, starting 220 or 219 (other information sources say by 202/201.)

For references, see Ludi Florales. Another excellent resource is by Marianne McDonald and J. Michael Walton. Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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Gill, N.S. "List of the Roman Ludi Scaenici." ThoughtCo, Feb. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/ludi-scaenici-112637. Gill, N.S. (2017, February 9). List of the Roman Ludi Scaenici. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ludi-scaenici-112637 Gill, N.S. "List of the Roman Ludi Scaenici." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ludi-scaenici-112637 (accessed September 22, 2017).