Domitian (emperor AD 81-96) instituted in AD 86 the Capitolia in Rome, games in honor of Iupiter Capitolinus, de main Roman god. These quadrennial games immediately took an important place besides the games of the periodos and made Rome a rival of Olympia in the festival circuit. For the occasion the emperor had a new stone stadion built on the so-called field of Mars, copied from Olympia and giving place to 15.000 spectators (now the Piazza Navona, the longest square in Rome, 250 m long!).

The first games were presided by the emperor himself, dressed in the purple garb of an hellanodikes, with a golden crown on his head on which were represented Iupiter, Iuno and Minerva. The victors received their crown from the emperor himself. During the horse races Domitian was not only emperor, but also an ardent fan.

Domitian also enjoyed the Roman gladiatorial games : under his reign the famous Colosseum was finished and here he organised all kinds of events, such as wild animal hunts and naval battles. He also loved the regular Roman horse races in the Circus Maximus as a fan of the Green faction.

© KU Leuven, 2012