Question : Who were the spectators at Roman games? Discuss the relationship between them and the performers they watched.
Gladiator fights were first introduced to Rome in 264 BC, when the sons of Junius Brutus paid honor to their father’s funeral by showing three pairs of gladiators fight. This ritual caught on and was performed to honor significant men. As the years passed, the ceremonies became more promoted and emperors began to present the games to symbolize their power.
The citizens of Rome loved to go to these bloody warfares. In the city of Rome, these events were held in the Colosseum. An arena so large that it could hold 50,000 spectators and host fights between men and animals.
Gladiatorial games occupied a central role in society. Sponsored during the republic by rich magistrates and later in the Empire by the Emperors themselves, the games have long been called an election tool.
The games in Rome are known today as the bloodiest exhibitions of public entertainment known to mankind. Men, Women and children flocked to the Colosseum to watch the bloodthirsty fighters murder one another.
The spectators came from all over the Roman Empire and various other regions, like Africa. The games became a way of entertaining the wealthy, as well as the common people.
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“Gladiator”, comes from the latin word “gladius”, for sword. They were primarily made up of slaves, criminals, prisoners of war or even volunteer free men. The crimes that could lead one to the arena included treason, robbery, and murder, among others. Some free men became gladiators of their own free will in hopes of gaining notoriety and patronage amongst the wealthy citizens. By the end of 50 BC almost half of the gladiators fighting in the Colosseum were free men.
The gladiators competed against one another for the sake of public entertainment at festival games. Although some gladiators fought wild animals, the combats usually featured a pair of male human contenders. They fought in diverse styles depending on their background and how much training they had endured. Originally as captured soldiers, they were made to fight with their own weopons.
There were also strong sexual references to the gladiator. The word gladius, for sword, was used to mean penis, their helmets were also, occasionally, shaped in the form of a phallus. Even the dead, defeated gladiator, had something sexual about him. It was customary for a new bride to have her hair parted with a spear, at best one which had been dipped, “in the body of a defeated and killed gladiator”, a lot of evidence like this suggests that there was a close link, in some Roman minds, between gladiatorial fighting and sexuality. Males however, were not the only gladiators, there was a time under Caesar’s reign when women were also fighting in the Colosseum.
The games continued from dawn to dusk and lasted for many days. The imperial games would sometimes exhibit thousands of gladiators in a sequence that could last for several months.
The Romans had many different notions than we have today on what a criminal was and how to deal with them. One of the most popular ways was by forcing them to fight in the Colosseum, for the Romans this was a symbol of the ordered world, and it was the Emperor who brought the public that order. In certain provinces, the execution of criminals ,wild beasts, which were also considered a plague to the world, took place in association with various cult-centres and ceremonies honoring the Emperor. The execution of criminals, and wild beasts in the colosseum came to symbolize good government.
While the Colosseum is a major tourist attraction today, back when the Roman Empire ruled it was a place of fighting, blood, and death. The colosseum was a source of entertainment for the people of Rome, as they witnessed the famed gladiators fighting to the death. The architectural design of the colosseum is an ingenious design, as well as the purpose and roles of it. The gladiators had an ...
The punishment of criminals did not just concern the convict, his victims and the state, but instead, those that share views from a certain society of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour subject to publicly proclaimed legal penalties. In order to reassure the public that proper social order is being restored, punishment needs to be made public in some way. For example, today we rely on media like television, to show the general public that criminals are being punished. The Romans put trust in the colosseum to bring “justice” to the public.
There were also many cases of people who were wrongly accused. When the Christians refused to sacrifice to the Emperor and worship his gods, they were accused of treason and thrown into the arena to combat wild beasts. Most of the animals involved in fighting in the colosseum also died in large numbers. At Pompey’s games there were, 17 or 18 elephants, 500 or 600 lions, 410 other African animals. The massacres of wild beasts that took place in the arena dramatically reduced the animal population at the time. For the Romans this was considered good, due to the fact that they believed it would help them gain new ground and better their agriculture.
The bloodshed which took place in the Colosseum, was not however, always hailed as a good sport. Many people, including one of the earliest Greek apologists, Tatian, in the mid-second century, has to be seen as part of a wider attack on pagan rituals, calling the games, “despicable and defiled.”
Seneca, a philosopher and politician, mentions in his letters :
“I happened to drop in on a midday show, looking for entertainment, wit, and some relaxation in which human eyes could take a rest from human blood. It was quite the opposite. All the fights beforehand were acts of mercy in comparison : now the frivolities are banished and we are offered sheer butchery.”
St. Augustine, another great philosopher of the western church tells “The Story of Alypius”, the story of a young man who gets taken to a gladiatorial show. St. Augustine writes about the “cruelty”, and “lust”, of the crowd. The character in the story, Alypius, is at first repulsed by the violence, but then has a change of heart, mainly because he has been over-powered and influenced by the cheering crowd.
The Roman Colosseum The Roman Colosseum, now called the Flavian Ampitheater, was built between the years 72 AD-80 AD. When the Colosseum was finished in 80 AD there was a huge celebration. There were many games and sports played that sacrificed many wild animals and men. The shows were very disgusting. They would have animal hunts in which the gladiators would try and kill the animals. Animals ...
The Roman gladiator fights were the most violent, bloodiest sports, ever to have been created in our entire history, killing thousands of people and animals for the sake of entertainment. However, it was also responsable for influencing many of the more passive popular sports that we have today. The Romans were living in a time, when most of the government and community were mainly focused on conquering, whether it was a country or person. The Colosseum was a way for Rome to demonstrate to the eager population the power and glory of the Roman Empire.