Directly below him is the arena- a level plane of considerable extent, covered with fine white sand. There all the trials will take place except the running.
Looking across this sanded arena westwardly still, there is a pedestal of marble supporting three low conical pillars of grey stone, much carven. Many an eye will hunt for those pillars before the day is done, for they are the first goal, and mark the beginning and end of the race-course. Behind the pedestal, leaving a passage-way and space for an altar, commences a wall ten or twelve feet in breadth and five or six in height, extending thence exactly two hundred yards, or one Olympic stadium. At the farther, or westward, extremity of the wall there is another pedestal, surmounted with pillars which mark the second goal.
The racers will enter the course on the right of the first goal, and keep the wall all the time to their left. The beginning and ending points of the contest lie, consequently, directly in front of the consul across the arena; and for that reason his seat was admittedly the most desirable in the Circus.
Now if the reader, who is still supposed to be seated on the consular tribunal over the Porta Pompae, will look up from the ground arrangement of the interior, the first point to attract his notice will be the marking of the outer boundary-line of the course- that is, a plain-faced, solid wall, fifteen or twenty feet in height, with a balustrade on its cope, like that over the carceres, or stall, in the east. This balcony, if followed round the course, will be found broken in three places to allow passages of exit and entrance, two in the north and one in the west; the latter very ornate, and called the Gate of Triumph, because, when all is over, the victors will pass out that way, crowned, and with triumphal escort and ceremonies.
At the west end the balcony encloses the course in the form of a half-circle, and is made to uphold two great galleries.
Directly behind the balustrade on the coping of the balcony is the first seat, from which ascend the succeeding benches, each higher than the one in front of it; giving to view a spectacle of surpassing interest- the spectacle of a vast space ruddy and glistening with human faces, and rich with vari-coloured costumes.
The commonalty occupy quarters over in the west, beginning at the point of termination of an awning, stretched, it would seem, for the accommodation of the better classes exclusively.
Having thus the whole interior of the Circus under view at the moment of the sounding of the trumpets, let the reader next imagine the multitude seated and sunk to sudden silence, and motionless in its intensity of interest.
Out of the Porta Pompae over in the east rises a sound mixed of voices and instruments harmonized. Presently, forth issues the chorus of the procession with which the celebration begins; the editor and civic authorities of the city, givers of the games, follow in robes and garlands; then the gods, some on platforms borne by men, others in great four-wheel carriages gorgeously decorated; next them, again, the contestants of the day, each in costume exactly as he will run, wrestle, leap, box, or drive.