Gaius Appuleius Diocles
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Basic Information

Gaius Appuleius Diocles is believed to be the highest-paid athlete in all of history. This chariot racer was born in 104 to an upper-middle class family in Lusitania (now Portugal), and started racing professionally in Ancient Rome in 122 AD. He raced professionally until 146, and 24 years was an unusually long career for a charioteer, and in various years raced on 3 of the 4 most successful stable teams in Rome.

His first few years of racing where unremarkable, other than that he survived. Chariot races were a very dangerous sport, with a high mortality rate and an average career length of just a few years. The Roman method for controlling the horses involved tying the charioteer to his reigns, so in the event of a crash the driver was likely to be dragged behind the horses. Gaius was a survivor first and foremost. His strategy for the races was to hold back until near the end of the race, avoiding most of the collisions and struggles, and keeping his horses fresh to pull ahead in the final lap when others were winded. After a few years of this, he developed a reputation for come-from-behind last-lap victories, making him a charismatic fan favorite.

His last race was in 146, and history holds no record of what happened to him after his retirement. His career winnings were a total of 35,863,120 sesterces, or almost 60,000 pounds (over 27,000 kg) of gold. No doubt a large percentage of that when to the team(s) and its owner(s), but regardless of his personal cut he was likely to be very wealthy by the end of his career.



Game and Story Use

  • For a game in Ancient Rome, Gaius would be a celebrity with the ability to be involved in all sorts of social circles and plotlines. You could meet him at the Colosseum, working in a dirty stable, or at a fancy party being hosted by upper class citizens.
    • You could use him as a bit of background world-building, bleeding modern-day tropes about celebrities / professional athletes / auto-racing into the ancient world to make it more accessible and relatable for the players.
    • You could build a mystery around the lack of historical record after his retirement. That's a lot of money to just vanish from the public eye.
  • For reference, the stable teams that dominated the Roman Chariot racing circus were serious business - at least in terms of tribalism - and a race day could lead to violence that makes the extremes of soccer hooliganism look tame. It even got into politics, with "The Greens" (i.e.: the name of one of the four largest chariot-racing stables in Rome) having Imperial patronage for a significant period.
    • Given that this guy raced for three of the four stable teams in Rome, the transfer market must have been … interesting.
  • The Roman Circus had rules against maleficium in place in the same sort of way that modern sport has rules against performance enhancing drugs. Presumably then, as now, anyone too successful would fall under suspicion.
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