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CIRENCESTER

are still, and now afford the only instance from which an idea of the ancient circi in Rome can be obtained. It was traced to Caracalla, till the discovery of an inscription in 1825 showed it to be the work of Maxentius. Old topographers speak of six circi, but two of these appear to be imaginary, the Circus Florae and the Circus Sallustii.

Circus races were held in connexion with the following public festivals, and generally on the last day of the festival, if it extended over more than one day:—(1) The Consualia, August 21st, December 15th; (2) Equirria, February 27th, March 14th; (3) Ludi Romani, September 4th-19th; (4) Ludi Plebeii, November 4th-17th; (5) Cerialia, April 12th-19th; (6) Ludi Apollinares, July 6th-13th; (7) Ludi Megalenses, April 4th-10th; (8) Floralia, April 28th-May 3rd.

In addition to Smith’s Dictionary of Antiquities (3rd ed., 1890), see articles in Daremberg and Saglio’s Dictionnaire des antiquités, Pauly-Wissowa’s Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, iii. 2 (1899), and Marquardt, Römische Staatsverwaltung, iii. (2nd ed., 1885), p. 504. For existing remains see works quoted under Rome: Archaeology.

2. The Modern Circus.—The “circus” in modern times is a form of popular entertainment which has little in common with the institution of classical Rome. It is frequently nomadic in character, the place of the permanent building known to the ancients as the circus being taken by a tent, which is carried from place to place and set up temporarily on any site procurable at country fairs or in provincial towns, and in which spectacular performances are given by a troupe employed by the proprietor. The centre of the tent forms an arena arranged as a horse-ring, strewn with tan or other soft substance, where the performances take place, the seats of the spectators being arranged in ascending tiers around the central space as in the Roman circus. The traditional type of exhibition in the modern travelling circus consists of feats of horsemanship, such as leaping through hoops from the back of a galloping horse, standing with one foot on each of two horses galloping side by side, turning somersaults from a springboard over a number of horses standing close together, or accomplishing acrobatic tricks on horseback. These performances, by male and female riders, are varied by the introduction of horses trained to perform tricks, and by drolleries on the part of the clown, whose place in the circus is as firmly established by tradition as in the pantomime.

The popularity of the circus in England may be traced to that kept by Philip Astley (d. 1814) in London at the end of the 18th century. Astley was followed by Ducrow, whose feats of horsemanship had much to do with establishing the traditions of the circus, which were perpetuated by Hengler’s and Sanger’s celebrated shows in a later generation. In America a circus-actor named Ricketts is said to have performed before George Washington in 1780, and in the first half of the 19th century the establishments of Purdy, Welch & Co., and of van Amburgh gave a wide popularity to the circus in the United States. All former circus-proprietors were, however, far surpassed in enterprise and resource by P. T. Barnum (q.v.), whose claim to be the possessor of “the greatest show on earth” was no exaggeration. The influence of Barnum, however, brought about a considerable change in the character of the modern circus. In arenas too large for speech to be easily audible, the traditional comic dialogue of the clown assumed a less prominent place than formerly, while the vastly increased wealth of stage properties relegated to the background the old-fashioned equestrian feats, which were replaced by more ambitious acrobatic performances, and by exhibitions of skill, strength and daring, requiring the employment of immense numbers of performers and often of complicated and expensive machinery. These tendencies are, as is natural, most marked in shows given in permanent buildings in large cities, such as the London Hippodrome, which was built as a combination of the circus, the menagerie and the variety theatre, where wild animals such as lions and elephants from time to time appeared in the ring, and where convulsions of nature such as floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have been produced with an extraordinary wealth of realistic display. At the Hippodrome in Paris—unlike its London namesake, a circus of the true classical type in which the arena is entirely surrounded by the seats of the spectators—chariot races after the Roman model were held in the latter part of the 19th century, at which prizes of considerable value were given by the management.


CIRENCESTER (traditionally pronounced Ciceter), a market town in the Cirencester parliamentary division of Gloucestershire, England, on the river Churn, a tributary of the Thames, 93 m. W.N.W. of London. Pop. of urban district (1901) 7536. It is served by a branch of the Great Western railway, and there is also a station on the Midland and South-Western Junction railway. This is an ancient and prosperous market town of picturesque old houses clustering round a fine parish church, with a high embattled tower, and a remarkable south porch with parvise. The church is mainly Perpendicular, and among its numerous chapels that of St Catherine has a beautiful roof of fan-tracery in stone dated 1508. Of the abbey founded in 1117 by Henry I. there remain a Norman gateway and a few capitals. There are two good museums containing mosaics, inscriptions, carved and sculptured stones, and many smaller remains, for the town was the Roman Corinium or Durocornovium Dobunorum. Little trace of Corinium, however, can be seen in situ, except the amphitheatre and some indications of the walls. To the west of the town is Cirencester House, the seat of Earl Bathurst. The first Lord Bathurst (1684–1775) devoted himself to beautifying the fine demesne of Oakley Park, which he planted and adorned with remarkable artificial ruins. This nobleman, who became baron in 1711 and earl in 1772, was a patron of art and literature no less than a statesman; and Pope, a frequent visitor here, was allowed to design the building known as Pope’s Seat, in the park, commanding a splendid prospect of woods and avenues. Swift was another appreciative visitor. The house contains portraits by Lawrence, Gainsborough, Romney, Lely, Reynolds, Hoppner, Kneller and many others. A mile west of the town is the Royal Agricultural College, incorporated by charter in 1845. Its buildings include a chapel, a dining hall, a library, a lecture theatre, laboratories, classrooms, private studies and dormitories for the students, apartments for resident professors, and servants’ offices; also a museum containing a collection of anatomical and pathological preparations, and mineralogical, botanical and geological specimens. The college farm comprises 500 acres, 450 of which are arable; and on it are the well-appointed farm-buildings and the veterinary hospital. Besides agriculture, the course of instruction at the college includes chemistry, natural and mechanical philosophy, natural history, mensuration, surveying and drawing, and other subjects of practical importance to the farmer, proficiency in which is tested by means of sessional examinations. The industries of Cirencester comprise various branches of agriculture. It has connexion by a branch canal with the Thames and Severn canal.

Corinium was a flourishing Romano-British town, at first perhaps a cavalry post, but afterwards, for the greater part of the Roman period, purely a civilian city. At Chedworth, 7 m. N.E., is one of the most noteworthy Roman villas in England. Cirencester (Cirneceaster, Cyrenceaster, Cyringceaster) is described in Domesday as ancient demesne of the crown. The manor was granted by William I. to William Fitzosbern; on reverting to the crown it was given in 1189, with the township, to the Augustinian abbey founded here by Henry I. The struggle of the townsmen to prove that Cirencester was a borough probably began in the same year, when they were amerced for a false presentment. Four inquisitions during the 13th century supported the abbot’s claims, yet in 1343 the townsmen declared in a chancery bill of complaint that Cirencester was a borough distinct from the manor, belonging to the king but usurped by the abbot, who since 1308 had abated their court of provostry. Accordingly they produced a copy of a forged charter from Henry I. to the town; the court ignored this and the abbot obtained a new charter and a writ of supersedeas. For their success against the earls of Kent and Salisbury Henry IV. in 1403 gave the townsmen a gild merchant, although two