Circus Factions

   Hippodrome (q.v.) factions (demoi in Greek, meaning "people"). They were comprised of racing fans loyal to the traditional four chariot colors: the Blues, Greens, Whites, and Reds. By the sixth century the most popular factions in Constantinople (q.v.) were the Blues and the Greens. They were noted for their tendency toward violence and hooliganism. The description of them in the Anekdota (Secret History) (q.v.) of Prokopios of Caesarea (qq.v.) makes them sound like thugs sporting gang colors. In addition to defending the walls of Constantinople in times of peril, they can be seen as having a political function, for they created the illusion of popular participation in government. Sometimes their riots expressed support for popular causes or were complaints against imperial abuses. This is what happened in the Nika Revolt against Justinian I (qq.v.) in 532. After the seventh century the circus factions in Constantinople were limited to strictly ceremonial functions.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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