Lusus Troiae

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Lusus Troiae or Trojan games was a quasi-military parade-style exercise in ancient Rome of an equestrian nature which emphasized horsemanship of the Roman cavalry. It was encouraged by Julius Caesar to help his troops perfect their skills in military maneuvering. Most likely the equestrian event was not passed down from Troy (ancient city) via Aeneas, although the Roman poet Virgil suggested in the epic The Aeneid that the games originated from the time of the Trojan War. When Virgil wrote the Aeneid, the event was well established in Rome during the reign of Augustus Caesar, but Virgil described the funeral games in the Aeneid as having happened a thousand years earlier during the funeral of Aeneas' father Anchises. Rather, it is likely the Roman military picked up the custom of the games from allies. But the event became popular at funerals particularly for state functions, as well as the foundings of temples, or to honor a military victory. Being asked to participate was seen as a huge mark of honor for young boys (too young to be soldiers, but old enough to ride horses) and it was reserved for persons of the nobility. Riders lined up in three troops called turmae. Each turmae had twelve horsemen, two armor bearers, and a leader who performed intricate maneuvers and drills.