Troy dice and gambling through the ages

The Troy movie gave rise to many heated discussions of a both spectacular and historical nature. But for me it posed another question: what leisure activities did the Greek soldiers have according to Homer’s classic, The Iliad. I can’t believe that they were only fighting and resting, but maybe they were also gambling. Sieges of cities are usually much less epic than is depicted in movies. So there should have also been periods of relative calm. With all those warriors left to themselves, they must have looked for some entertainment. As all the women were on the other side of the wall, they had little else to do but gamble. And my guess was confirmed. They played dice! The dice in turn was invented by one of the Greek heroes named Palamed to help his fellow warriors cope with boredom. He was praised by them and should still be by all craps players today.

Troy is both a legend and history. And nowadays there are a number of casino’s which make legends online with the help of history. You know them well:,,,,

So I would like to give you – readers of Gambling Gates – some feel for ancient gambling. In the following series of articles we`ll travel though the ages to different countries to see how our ancestors gambled.

The tales of many cultures and peoples all over the world hold more than a handful of references to games of chance. They are often the pearls of these stories often being more exciting or even dramatic than the tales themselves. Greek and Roman myths mention Fortune – the Goddess of Chance and Gambling, and Tyho – the Goddess of Luck.  And both the Irish and Scottish peoples have a number of tales about unusual bets and about fortunes not claimed by the victors.

But the most numerous dramatic tales of gambling are found in the folk culture and literature of Asia, especially South-East Asia, Japan, the Philippines and India. Asia has produced a myriad of popular legends and tales of games of chance and unusual bets. Some of these legends have very ancient origins. And while some of them relate to games of chance with the gods, many others have an absolutely secular nature.

Another continent rich in gambling legends is North America. North-American Indians represent almost half of all the historical evidence from known world cultures that mention gambling. So it is no wonder the Red Indian’s gambling has spread so widely.

Most of the cultures we are going to speak about enjoyed games of dice. It really is one of the most simple, yet most exciting of the games of chance. Playing dice is one of the age-old leisure occupations. The first dice games in human history were played in ancient India, China, Libya, Egypt, Greece, and in the Roman Empire. Many ancient nations – North American Indians, Mayas, Aztecs, Eskimos, and Africans – used to play dice, made from peach or plum stones, plant seeds, nuts, bison or sheep bones, deer horns, beaver teeth, ceramics, bronze, agate, onyx, black amber, mountain crystal, marble, or many other materials.

So, let’s go further. As we began by mentioning Troy, Greece, and Palamed, our retrospective should definitely start with Ancient Greece. So, look forward to Ancient Greece: Gambling with the Gods and Heroes.

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