‘Let the Snorter Be Covered in Soot’: Ancient Board Game Inscriptions

‘to hunt, to bath, to play, to laugh — This is to live!’

Insightful article on the what the peripheral writings on ancient game boards can tell us about the people who played with them.

What will future generations learn from the games in your collection? Do you embellish your games or will they pass into history with no trace of their owners? Will Legacy-style games prove to be the greatest future window into the lives of board gamers of today?

I’ve got a game set in Ancient Rome coming out at Essen this year. I’m going to see if we can add some fun “inscriptions” to the game board artwork as a playful call back to these historical game players.

Be sure to click through and read the full article:

History From Below

☩ μὴ θεόμαχος νήων. ☩

☩ ἀσβολόθη ὁ ῥονχάζων. ☩

Let the snorter / be covered in soot!

[MAMA X, 330=PH 269278]

Games of chance are never a silent endeavor; however, Romans found it rather uncouth to snort when Fortune was not on your side. A civil person kept their nose silent. There is a strong auditory component to board and card games even today (think about your own favorite cuss words or perhaps a nicely placed ‘yo mama’ joke), just as there was in antiquity. An inscription from late antique Phrygia (4th-5th c. CE) in fact gives us some idea of the insults hurled in the late ancient world. On the edges of a game board adorned with crosses, no less, we have the insult: ‘μὴ θεόμαχος νήων’ (for ναίων), ἀσβολόθη (should be ἠσβολώθη) ὁ ῥονχάζων–essentially, let the snorter go straight to hell. Clearly the crosses were there for protection and luck, and not as a show…

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