The Ancient Greeks and Gambling – Greek City Times


The ancient Greeks, certainly like the modern Greeks, loved gambling.

As one of the most common vices in the world, gambling has a long history dating back to ancient Greece.

Records of ancient Greeks playing dice and other luck-based games are found in ancient literature and are even included in the works of Homer, who is perhaps the most famous ancient Greek poet in the world. ‘story.

Probably the most common and popular form of gambling in Greece involved various dice games.

As in many ancient cultures, such as Iran, Egypt, and India, early Greek dice were actually made from animal bones, called ossicles, or “astragaloi” in Greek.

Gambling was a favorite pastime in ancient Greece and Rome

The ancient Greeks played knucklebones and even assigned numerical values ​​to each of the four sides of the pieces, much like modern dice.

The ancient Greeks and Romans also began forming cubic dice out of clay in late antiquity. These strongly resembled contemporary dice.

While the rules for many of these ancient games have been lost over time, scholars are able to guess and estimate some rules based on ancient sources.

A well-known element of dice games played first in ancient Greece and later in Rome is called the “Aphrodite throw”, which involves throwing four bones at a time.

If all four landed on a different number, it was considered the best result and called “Aphrodite’s throw”.

In the simplest dice game, groups would roll the dice and bet on the results, hoping to get the best rolls. According to the ancient Roman writer Suetonius, Emperor Augustus was very fond of playing with bones.

Besides gambling, bones may also have been used for divination in ancient Greece.

Archaeologists have also discovered carved wooden boards that resemble contemporary board games. These tablets were probably used for some kind of play which could also include the use of knuckle bones.

Gambling and dice rolling is also a favorite pastime of the gods of Olympus, as mentioned in a number of myths.

According to various versions of the tale, the brothers Zeus, Hades and Poseidon played a game of dice to decide who would rule over which kingdom in the universe.

Practice found across the world

Humanity’s impulse to play has been recorded around the world throughout history. Remnants of dice-shaped coins have been found in nearly every ancient civilization, and the rules imposed to regulate the practice have been recorded for millennia.

Almost every religion has some sort of rules surrounding the game, from Judaism to Buddhism. In the Bible, Roman soldiers are described as “casting lots”, probably by throwing knucklebones, to decide who would buy Jesus’ robes.

READ MORE: Stolen cultural property from ancient Greece cataloged in a German museum.


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