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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in the Roman Empire, a group of people involved in organizing equestrian contests.

The term was later transferred by scholars studying Byzantium to the sports organizations, known in Byzantine cities from the fourth century A.D., that arranged and conducted circus and sports events.

Large groups of fans, called demes, adhered to the various factions. There were usually four factions in each city, and they, like the demes, were named according to the color of the costumes worn by their charioteers: the Blues (Veneti), Greens (Prasinoi), Whites (Leukoi), and Reds (Russi). The most important were the Veneti and Prasinoi of Constantinople, who played an important political role in the fifth through seventh centuries. They lost their political importance around the middle of the seventh century and subsequently concerned themselves solely with the organization of sports competitions and festive ceremonies in Constantinople.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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