Welcome to the Sphendone

The final part of Byzantium: A Tale of Three Cities will be screened on BBC 4 on Thursday. Its presenter, the historian and biographer Simon Sebag Montefiore, writes in the Financial Times that the most thrilling place he explored in Istanbul was one never opened to the public: the Sphendone, where horses and charioteers were marshalled before racing and dying in front of baying crowds in the Hippodrome. There, he’ll be holding forth for the camera on the ancient punishments of rhinokopia and elinguation.

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