Os animais usados ​​para o combate de gladiadores em Roma foram treinados?

Os animais usados ​​para o combate de gladiadores em Roma foram treinados?

Os animais usados ​​para o combate de gladiadores em Roma eram 100% selvagens, ou foram treinados de alguma forma (seja para fins de entretenimento, como os animais de circo de hoje, ou para lutar como os cães de luta são treinados hoje).

Se for importante, os que mais me interessam são os grandes felinos.

Inspirado no comentário do apoorv020 sobre minha pergunta anterior.


RESPOSTA CURTA

Para a pergunta principal, "Os animais usados ​​para o combate de gladiadores em Roma foram treinados?", A resposta é um sim qualificado. Grandes gatos e ursos às vezes eram treinados para ser mais ferozes e atacar humanos, mas foram usados ​​principalmente (1) para matar condenados desarmados ou mal armados, (2) em caçadas em que foram mortos por venatores (os caçadores geralmente armados com uma lança, espada ou flechas), ou (3) em lutas contra bestiarii, um tipo de gladiador treinado especificamente para matar animais. Infelizmente, as fontes antigas muitas vezes não fornecem detalhes, mas parece que a maioria dos gladiadores lutou contra outros gladiadores em vez de animais.

Para a outra questão sobre o uso de animais treinados em outras formas de entretenimento, a resposta é (uma mais definitiva) sim. Martial (falecido por volta de 103 DC), Sêneca (falecido em 65 DC) e outros citam uma série de exemplos, incluindo elefantes jogando flechas e andando na corda bamba e um leão treinado para não machucar uma lebre. Plínio, o Velho (d. 79 DC) também observa que Mark Anthony (falecido em 30 DC) tinha uma carruagem puxada por leões.

No entanto, não apenas por razões financeiras e práticas, as fontes antigas geralmente sugerem que a maioria dos milhares de animais que apareceram na arena não foram treinados. Os exemplos mencionados nesta resposta devem ser considerados como casos excepcionais para circunstâncias especiais ou destaques dos jogos onde o treinamento foi necessário para garantir um desempenho bem-sucedido.


DETALHES

1. Animais treinados para lutar e / ou matar

Um problema com as fontes antigas é que muitas vezes não têm detalhes sobre quem lutou ou caçou os animais e se esses animais foram treinados ou não. Por exemplo, Tito Lívio (Bk 39, cap 22) escreveu:

Então, por dez dias, com grande magnificência, Marcus Fulvius deu os jogos que havia jurado durante a guerra etólia [191 - 189 aC]. 2 Muitos atores também vieram da Grécia para homenageá-lo. Também um concurso de atletas foi então feito pela primeira vez um espetáculo para os romanos e uma caçada de leões e panteras foi dada,…

Cássio Dio relatou como Pompeu (falecido em 48 aC) fez com que dezoito elefantes lutassem contra homens armados; infelizmente, nenhum detalhe é dado sobre quem eram os homens armados ou se os elefantes eram treinados - talvez não, porque os animais pareciam não reagir e (muito incomum) ganharam a piedade do público.

Dado (como Mark Olsen aponta em um comentário) os enormes gastos financeiros e que decepcionar a multidão refletiria mal em quem organizou os jogos, é altamente provável que animais em desempenhos importantes foram treinados (ou seja, para evitar o erro que Pompeu cometeu). Não há menção, por exemplo, da insatisfação da multidão nos jogos Flavianos quando Cassius Dio relata que

Houve uma batalha entre guindastes e também entre quatro elefantes

Como guindastes e elefantes geralmente só se tornam agressivos quando ameaçados, parece provável que eles foram treinados, ou pelo menos provocados (mas isso são animais lutando contra animais ao invés de humanos). Sobre o treinamento de animais, mais útil é este de Novaciano:

Um animal selvagem é treinado com delicado cuidado para que, por sua vez, sirva para punir um homem e atuar com maior fúria diante dos olhos dos espectadores. Um animal treinado recebe instruções; teria sido talvez menos feroz, se seu mestre ainda mais cruel não o tivesse treinado para agir ferozmente.

Fonte: Novatianus, 'The Spectacles'

Existem até casos de leões sendo treinados para comer homens. Um desses incidentes desagradou muito os imperadores Cláudio (morto em 54 DC) (veja mais abaixo) e Marco Aurélio (morto em 180 DC):

Dio 60.13.4, Loeb. Dio, 72.29.3-4, diz que M. Aurelius se recusou a assistir a um leão treinado para comer homens e recusou as exigências dos espectadores para que o treinador do leão fosse libertado.

Fonte: D. G. Kyle, 'Spectacles of death in ancient Rome' (1998)

De maneira mais geral, Kyle afirma:

Mesmo os animais ferozes (por exemplo, leões e leopardos) tiveram que ser especialmente treinados, e provavelmente morreram de fome, para se tornarem 'comedores de homens'. Dio diz que o desanimado Cláudio gostava de assistir humanos mortos por humanos ou dilacerados (analoumenoi) por animais, mas ele matou um leão 'que havia sido treinado para comer (esthiein) homens e, portanto, agradou muito a multidão, alegando que era não é adequado para os romanos contemplarem tal visão '

No entanto, também há evidências de que esse treinamento nem sempre funcionou:

Mesmo os animais treinados nem sempre eram eficientes ou confiáveis. Embora os treinadores os provocassem com fogo e chicotes, e os cristãos, conforme as instruções, os convidassem com gestos, os animais desorientados às vezes não atacavam as vítimas, ou podiam atacar o bastão da arena.

Fonte: Kyle

Em uma nota de rodapé, Kyle cita exemplos (de Martial e Plutarco) de leões se voltando contra seus tratadores em vez das vítimas pretendidas. Também,

o registro do último animal mostra em documentos de 281 DC que 100 leões-guará foram abatidos nas portas de suas gaiolas porque se recusaram a sair.

Fonte: Kyle

Há também esta peça interessante sobre Nero e um leão treinado, não um caso de combate real, mas sim planejado, do qual Nero parece ter desistido:

De acordo com Suetônio, Ner. 53, Nero planejou fingir ser Hércules: ele tinha um leão treinado para que pudesse matá-lo na arena com uma clava ou estrangulando-o.

Fonte: Kyle


2. Aqueles que lutaram ou caçaram os animais

Nos homens que lutaram contra animais, o bestiarii eram originalmente simplesmente prisioneiros mal armados enviados para a arena com a expectativa de que seriam mortos por animais como leões e ursos e, portanto, não podem ser considerados gladiadores. No entanto, alguns emergiram como lutadores de animais qualificados e especializados e o imperador Domiciano (falecido em 96 DC) estabeleceu o Ludus Matutinus, especificamente para treinamento bestiarii para lutar contra os animais. Um famoso bestiário foi Carpophorus, mencionado por Martial em Nos shows públicos de Domiciano

Também importantes no entretenimento romano eram venatores, às vezes definido como um tipo de gladiador especializado na caça de animais. De outros venatores especializou-se na caça de animais selvagens, capturando-os nas províncias para que fossem enviados a Roma.

"Neste mosaico, uma venatio está sendo realizada sob a égide de Diana ... e Dionísio, subjugador de animais, que carrega um bastão com uma cabeça em forma de meia-lua ... Os próprios leopardos estão rodeados de guirlandas. As duas divindades indicam o caráter religioso desses jogos ... Os próprios venatores são uma trupe profissional de caçadores de feras, os Telegenii, que haviam contratado para realizar, um dos quais está lutando em pernas de pau ". Fonte de imagem e texto


3. Animais treinados para entretenimento "não letal"

Sêneca observou que

ursos e leões, pelo bom uso, serão trazidos para bajular seus mestres

e

Algumas pessoas têm a habilidade de recuperar o mais feroz dos animais; eles farão um leão abraçar seu guardião, um tigre beijá-lo e um elefante se ajoelhar diante dele.

Fonte: Seneca, 'Morals'

Outro exemplo de leão domesticado vem de Martial:

Martial ficou impressionado com o fato de os leões na arena serem disciplinados o suficiente para agarrar lebres, prendê-las em suas mandíbulas e depois deixá-las sem ferimentos.

Fonte: L. J. Hawtree, 'Wild Animals in Roman Epic' (PhD, 2011)

Plínio parece gostar particularmente de elefantes, relatando que

Na exibição de gladiadores feita por Germânico, os elefantes realizavam uma espécie de dança com seus movimentos rudes e irregulares. Era comum vê-los atirar flechas com tanta força que o vento não conseguia desviá-los de seu curso, imitar entre si os combates dos gladiadores e brincar nos passos da dança de Pirro. Depois disso, também, eles caminharam na corda bamba, e quatro deles carregariam uma liteira na qual estava uma quinta, que representava uma mulher deitada. Posteriormente, eles tomaram seus lugares; e eles administravam seus passos tão bem que nem sequer tocavam em qualquer um dos que ali bebiam.

Fonte: Plínio, o Velho, 'Natural History Bk 8 Ch2'

Plínio também fala de Mark Anthony que

sujeitou leões ao jugo e foi o primeiro em Roma a atrela-los a sua carruagem ...

e comenta que

… Foi uma coisa que superou até mesmo os espetáculos mais monstruosos que podiam ser vistos naquele período calamitoso.

Fonte: Plínio, o Velho, 'Natural History Bk 8 Ch21'

Finalmente, a Historia Augusta registra que o imperador Elagabalus (d. 222 DC) tinha carros puxados por camelos, leões, tigres e veados.


Outras fontes:

Paul Christesen Donald G Kyle (eds.) 'Um companheiro para o esporte e o espetáculo na antiguidade grega e romana'

Keith Hopkins e Mary Beard, 'The Colosseum'

Nicholas Lindberg, 'O Imperador e Seus Animais: A Aquisição de Bestas Exóticas para Venationes Imperiais'. Em Grécia e Roma, vol. 66 edição 2


Dependeria de que tipo de animal era e que tipo de entretenimento estaria proporcionando. Uma lista dos animais que participaram dos eventos pode ser encontrada nesta página.

Alguns animais, como zebras e avestruzes, foram treinados para puxar carruagens. Outros animais foram ensinados a fazer truques. Com a enorme variedade de animais que participaram dos muitos eventos, alguns foram usados ​​apenas para "caças" ou lançados contra um gladiador em uma luta até a morte.

Os animais mais exóticos usados ​​em "caçadas" ou lançados contra um gladiador em uma luta até a morte eram provavelmente animais selvagens sem nenhum treinamento.

Além disso, alguns eventos de gladiadores envolviam a liberação de rebanhos de animais para a arena apenas para que eles pudessem ser abatidos. Não haveria motivo para treinar esses animais.


Jogos assassinos: concursos de gladiadores na Roma Antiga

Os espetáculos de gladiadores transformaram a guerra em jogo, preservaram o clima de violência em tempos de paz e funcionaram como um teatro político que possibilitou o confronto entre governantes e governados.

Roma era um estado guerreiro. Após a derrota de Cartago em 201 aC, Roma embarcou em dois séculos de expansão imperial quase contínua. No final desse período, Roma controlava toda a bacia do Mediterrâneo e grande parte do noroeste da Europa. A população de seu império, entre 50 e 60 milhões de pessoas, constituía talvez um quinto ou um sexto da população mundial de então. A conquista vitoriosa foi comprada por um preço enorme, medido em sofrimento humano, carnificina e dinheiro. Os custos foram arcados por dezenas de milhares de povos conquistados, que pagaram impostos ao Estado romano, por escravos capturados na guerra e transportados para a Itália e por soldados romanos que serviram durante longos anos lutando no exterior.

A disciplina do exército romano era notória. A dizimação é um índice de sua gravidade. Se uma unidade do exército era considerada desobediente ou covarde em batalha, um soldado em dez era selecionado por sorteio e martelado até a morte por seus ex-camaradas. Deve-se enfatizar que a dizimação não era apenas um mito dito para aterrorizar novos recrutas; ela realmente aconteceu no período de expansão imperial, e com freqüência suficiente para não despertar comentários específicos. Os soldados romanos matavam uns aos outros para o bem comum.

Quando os romanos eram tão impiedosos uns com os outros, que misericórdia os prisioneiros de guerra podiam esperar? Não é de admirar, então, que às vezes fossem forçados a lutar em combates de gladiadores ou atirados a feras para o entretenimento popular. As execuções públicas ajudaram a inculcar valor e medo nos homens, mulheres e crianças deixados em casa. As crianças aprenderam a lição do que aconteceu aos soldados que foram derrotados. As execuções públicas eram rituais que ajudavam a manter um clima de violência, mesmo em tempos de paz. O derramamento de sangue e a carnificina juntaram-se à glória militar e à conquista como elementos centrais na cultura romana.

Com a ascensão do primeiro imperador Augusto (31 aC - 14 dC), o estado romano embarcou em um período de paz de longo prazo (pax romana) Por mais de dois séculos, graças à sua defesa eficaz pelos exércitos de fronteira, o núcleo interno do Império Romano foi virtualmente isolado da experiência direta da guerra. Então, em memória de suas tradições guerreiras, os romanos montaram campos de batalha artificiais em cidades e vilas para diversão pública. O costume se espalhou da Itália para as províncias.

Hoje em dia, admiramos o Coliseu de Roma e outros grandes anfiteatros romanos como os de Verona, Arles, Nimes e El Djem como monumentos arquitetônicos. Decidimos esquecer que era aqui que os romanos regularmente organizavam lutas até a morte entre centenas de gladiadores, a execução em massa de criminosos desarmados e a matança indiscriminada de animais domésticos e selvagens.

O enorme tamanho dos anfiteatros indica a popularidade dessas exposições. O Coliseu foi inaugurado em 80 DC com 100 dias de jogos. Um dia, 3.000 homens lutaram e outros 9.000 animais foram mortos. Ele acomodou 50.000 pessoas. Ainda é um dos edifícios mais impressionantes de Roma, uma façanha magnífica de engenharia e design. Nos tempos antigos, os anfiteatros devem ter se erguido sobre as cidades, assim como as catedrais se erguiam sobre as cidades medievais. Os assassinatos públicos de homens e animais eram um rito romano, com nuances de sacrifício religioso, legitimado pelo mito de que os shows de gladiadores inspiravam a população com "uma glória nas feridas e um desprezo pela morte".

Filósofos e, posteriormente, cristãos, desaprovaram fortemente. Para pouco efeito, os jogos de gladiadores persistiram pelo menos até o início do século V DC, e as matanças de feras até o século VI. Santo Agostinho em seu Confissões conta a história de um cristão que foi relutantemente forçado a ir ao anfiteatro por um grupo de amigos no início, ele manteve os olhos fechados, mas quando ouviu o rugido da multidão, ele os abriu e foi convertido pela visão de sangue em um devoto ansioso de shows de gladiadores. Mesmo a crítica mordaz citada abaixo revela uma certa empolgação por trás de sua indignação moral.

Sêneca, senador e filósofo romano, conta sobre uma visita que certa vez fez à arena. Ele chegou no meio do dia, durante a execução em massa de criminosos, encenada como uma diversão no intervalo entre o show de fera da manhã e o show de gladiadores da tarde:

Todas as lutas anteriores foram misericordiosas em comparação. Agora a sutileza foi posta de lado e temos assassinato puro e não adulterado. Os combatentes não possuem proteção cobrindo seus corpos inteiros são expostos aos golpes. Nenhum golpe é em vão. É o que muita gente prefere aos concursos regulares, e mesmo aos que são organizados a pedido popular. E é óbvio o porquê. Não há capacete, nem escudo para repelir a lâmina. Por que ter armadura? Por que se preocupar com habilidade? Tudo isso apenas atrasa a morte.

De manhã, os homens são atirados aos leões e aos ursos. Ao meio-dia eles são jogados para os próprios espectadores. Assim que um homem é morto, eles gritam para que ele mate outro ou seja morto. O vencedor final é reservado para alguma outra matança. No final, todo lutador morre. E tudo isso continua enquanto a arena está meio vazia.

Você pode objetar que as vítimas cometeram roubos ou eram assassinas. E daí? Mesmo que eles merecessem sofrer, qual é a sua compulsão de assistir ao sofrimento deles? 'Mate-o', eles gritam, 'Bata nele, queime-o'. Por que ele é tímido demais para lutar? Por que ele tem tanto medo de matar? Por que tão relutante em morrer? Eles têm que chicoteá-lo para fazê-lo aceitar suas feridas.

Muitas das nossas evidências sugerem que as lutas de gladiadores estavam, por origem, intimamente ligadas aos funerais. 'Era uma vez', escreveu o crítico cristão Tertuliano no final do segundo século DC, 'os homens acreditavam que as almas dos mortos eram propiciadas por sangue humano e, portanto, nos funerais eles sacrificavam prisioneiros de guerra ou escravos de baixa qualidade comprado para o efeito '. O primeiro show de gladiadores registrado ocorreu em 264 aC: foi apresentado por dois nobres em homenagem a seu pai morto, apenas três pares de gladiadores participaram. Nos dois séculos seguintes, a escala e a frequência dos shows de gladiadores aumentaram constantemente. Em 65 aC, por exemplo, Júlio César ofereceu elaborados jogos fúnebres para seu pai envolvendo 640 gladiadores e criminosos condenados que foram forçados a lutar com feras. Em seus jogos seguintes em 46 aC, em memória de sua filha morta e, diga-se, em comemoração aos seus recentes triunfos na Gália e no Egito, César apresentou não apenas as lutas habituais entre gladiadores individuais, mas também lutas entre destacamentos inteiros de infantaria e entre esquadrões de cavalaria, alguns montados em cavalos, outros em elefantes. Chegaram os shows de gladiadores em grande escala. Alguns dos competidores eram gladiadores profissionais, outros prisioneiros de guerra e outros criminosos condenados à morte.

Até então, os shows de gladiadores sempre foram apresentados por aristocratas individuais por sua própria iniciativa e despesas, em homenagem a parentes mortos. O componente religioso nas cerimônias de gladiadores continuou a ser importante. Por exemplo, os atendentes na arena estavam vestidos como deuses. Escravos que testavam se os gladiadores caídos estavam realmente mortos ou apenas fingindo, aplicando um ferro cauterizador em brasa, estavam vestidos como o deus Mercúrio. 'Aqueles que arrastaram os cadáveres estavam vestidos como Plutão, o deus do submundo. Durante as perseguições aos cristãos, as vítimas às vezes eram conduzidas ao redor da arena em uma procissão fantasiadas de sacerdotes e sacerdotisas de cultos pagãos, antes de serem despidas e atiradas às feras. A confusão de sangue em shows de gladiadores e feras, os guinchos e o cheiro das vítimas humanas e dos animais abatidos são completamente estranhos para nós e quase inimagináveis. Para alguns romanos, eles devem ter sido uma reminiscência de campos de batalha e, mais imediatamente para todos, associados ao sacrifício religioso. A uma distância, os romanos, mesmo no auge de sua civilização, realizavam sacrifícios humanos, supostamente em homenagem a seus mortos.

No final do século passado aC, os elementos religiosos e comemorativos nos shows de gladiadores foram eclipsados ​​pelo político e pelo espetacular. Os espetáculos de gladiadores eram espetáculos públicos realizados em sua maioria, antes da construção do anfiteatro, no centro ritual e social da cidade, o Fórum. A participação do público, atraída pelo esplendor do espetáculo e pela distribuição de carnes, e pelas apostas, ampliou o respeito aos mortos e a honra de toda a família. Os funerais aristocráticos na República (antes de 31 aC) eram atos políticos. E os jogos fúnebres tinham implicações políticas, por causa de sua popularidade entre os cidadãos eleitores. Na verdade, o crescimento do esplendor dos shows de gladiadores foi amplamente alimentado pela competição entre aristocratas ambiciosos, que desejavam agradar, excitar e aumentar o número de seus apoiadores.

Em 42 aC, pela primeira vez, as lutas de gladiadores foram substituídas por corridas de bigas nos jogos oficiais. Depois disso, na cidade de Roma, espetáculos regulares de gladiadores, como espetáculos teatrais e corridas de carruagem, eram oferecidos por oficiais do Estado, como parte de suas carreiras oficiais, como uma obrigação oficial e como um imposto sobre o status. O imperador Augusto, como parte de uma política geral de limitar as oportunidades dos aristocratas de cortejar favores da população romana, restringiu severamente o número de shows regulares de gladiadores a dois por ano. Ele também restringiu seu esplendor e tamanho. Cada oficial foi proibido de gastar mais com eles do que seus colegas, e um limite máximo foi fixado em 120 gladiadores por show.

Essas regulamentações foram gradualmente evitadas. A pressão para a evasão era simplesmente que, mesmo sob os imperadores, os aristocratas ainda competiam entre si, em prestígio e sucesso político. O esplendor da exibição pública de um senador pode fazer ou destruir sua reputação social e política. Um aristocrata, Symmachus, escreveu a um amigo: 'Devo agora superar a reputação conquistada por meus próprios shows a recente generosidade de nossa família durante meu consulado e os jogos oficiais dados por meu filho não nos permitem apresentar nada medíocre'. Então, ele começou a pedir a ajuda de vários amigos poderosos nas províncias. No final, ele conseguiu obter antílopes, gazelas, leopardos, leões, ursos, filhotes de urso e até alguns crocodilos, que só sobreviveram ao início dos jogos, porque nos cinquenta dias anteriores se recusaram a comer. Além disso, 29 prisioneiros de guerra saxões estrangularam uns aos outros em suas celas na noite anterior à sua última aparição programada. Symmachus estava com o coração partido. Como todo doador de jogos, ele sabia que sua posição política estava em jogo. Cada apresentação estava na frase surpreendentemente apropriada de Goffman, "um banho de sangue de status".

Os shows de gladiadores mais espetaculares foram dados pelos próprios imperadores em Roma. Por exemplo, o imperador Trajano, para celebrar sua conquista da Dácia (aproximadamente a moderna Romênia), deu jogos em 108-9 DC com duração de 123 dias, nos quais 9.138 gladiadores lutaram e onze mil animais foram mortos. O imperador Claudius em 52 DC presidiu com uniforme militar completo sobre uma batalha em um lago perto de Roma entre dois esquadrões navais, tripulados para a ocasião por 19.000 combatentes forçados. A guarda do palácio, estacionada atrás de fortes barricadas, que também impediam a fuga dos combatentes, bombardeou os navios com mísseis de catapultas. Depois de um início vacilante, porque os homens se recusaram a lutar, a batalha segundo Tácito foi travada com o espírito de homens livres, embora entre criminosos. Depois de muito derramamento de sangue, aqueles que sobreviveram foram poupados do extermínio '.

A qualidade da justiça romana era freqüentemente temperada pela necessidade de satisfazer a demanda dos condenados. Os cristãos, queimados até a morte como bodes expiatórios após o grande incêndio em Roma em 64 DC, não foram os únicos a serem sacrificados para entretenimento público. Escravos e transeuntes, até os próprios espectadores, corriam o risco de se tornarem vítimas dos caprichos truculentos dos imperadores. O imperador Cláudio, por exemplo, insatisfeito com o funcionamento da maquinaria do palco, ordenou que os mecânicos responsáveis ​​lutassem na arena. Um dia, quando havia falta de criminosos condenados, o imperador Calígula ordenou que uma seção inteira da multidão fosse agarrada e atirada às feras. Incidentes isolados, mas o suficiente para intensificar a empolgação de quem compareceu. A legitimidade imperial foi reforçada pelo terror.

Quanto aos animais, sua variedade simbolizava a extensão do poder romano e deixou traços vívidos na arte romana. Em 169 aC, sessenta e três leões e leopardos africanos, quarenta ursos e vários elefantes foram caçados em um único show. Novas espécies foram gradualmente apresentadas aos espectadores romanos (tigres, crocodilos, girafas, linces, rinocerontes, avestruzes, hipopótamos) e mortas para seu prazer. Para os romanos, não era a visão domesticada de animais enjaulados em um zoológico. Bestas selvagens foram preparadas para despedaçar criminosos como uma lição pública de dor e morte. Às vezes, cenários elaborados e cenários teatrais eram preparados nos quais, como clímax, um criminoso era devorado membro por membro. Essas punições espetaculares, comuns em estados pré-industriais, ajudaram a reconstituir o poder soberano. O criminoso desviante foi punido, a lei e a ordem foram restabelecidas.

O trabalho e a organização necessários para capturar tantos animais e entregá-los vivos a Roma devem ter sido enormes. Mesmo que os animais selvagens fossem mais abundantes do que agora, programas individuais com cem, quatrocentos ou seiscentos leões, além de outros animais, parecem incríveis. Em contraste, após a época romana, nenhum hipopótamo foi visto na Europa até que um foi trazido para Londres em um navio a vapor em 1850. Foi necessário um regimento inteiro de soldados egípcios para capturá-lo, e envolveu uma jornada de cinco meses para trazê-lo do Nilo Branco para Cairo. E ainda assim o Imperador Commodus, um tiro certeiro com lança e arco, matou ele próprio cinco hipopótamos, dois elefantes, um rinoceronte e uma girafa, em um show de dois dias. Em outra ocasião, ele matou 100 leões e ursos em um único show matinal, em passarelas seguras especialmente construídas na arena. Foi, observou um contemporâneo, "uma melhor demonstração de precisão do que de coragem". A matança de animais exóticos na presença do imperador, e excepcionalmente pelo próprio imperador ou pelos guardas de seu palácio, foi uma dramatização espetacular do formidável poder do imperador: imediato, sangrento e simbólico.

Os shows de gladiadores também proporcionaram uma arena para a participação popular na política. Cícero reconheceu isso explicitamente no final da República: “o julgamento e os desejos do povo romano sobre os assuntos públicos podem ser expressos mais claramente em três lugares: assembleias públicas, eleições e em peças ou espetáculos de gladiadores”. Ele desafiou um oponente político: 'Entregue-se ao povo. Confie nos Jogos. Você tem medo de não ser aplaudido? ' Os seus comentários sublinham o facto de a multidão ter tido a importante opção de dar ou reter aplausos, de assobiar ou de calar.

Sob os imperadores, à medida que os direitos dos cidadãos de se envolverem na política diminuíam, os shows e jogos de gladiadores proporcionaram oportunidades repetidas para o confronto dramático entre governantes e governados. Roma foi única entre os grandes impérios históricos ao permitir, na verdade ao esperar, esses encontros regulares entre imperadores e a grande massa da capital, reunidos em uma única multidão. Para ter certeza, os imperadores podiam principalmente administrar o palco de sua própria aparência e recepção. Eles deram shows extravagantes. Eles jogaram presentes para a multidão - pequenas bolas de madeira marcadas (chamadas missilia ), que pode ser trocado por vários luxos. Eles ocasionalmente plantavam suas próprias claques na multidão.

Principalmente, os imperadores recebiam ovações de pé e aclamações rituais. Os Jogos de Roma forneceram um palco para o imperador exibir sua majestade - luxuosa ostentação em procissão, acessibilidade aos humildes peticionários, generosidade para com a multidão, envolvimento humano nas próprias competições, graciosidade ou arrogância para com os aristocratas reunidos, clemência ou crueldade para com os vencido. Quando um gladiador caía, a multidão gritava por misericórdia ou despacho. O imperador pode ser influenciado por seus gritos ou gestos, mas somente ele, o árbitro final, decide quem viver ou morrer. Quando o imperador entrava no anfiteatro, ou decidia o destino de um gladiador caído pelo movimento do polegar, naquele momento ele tinha 50.000 cortesãos. Ele sabia que ele era César Imperator , O mais importante dos homens.

As coisas nem sempre correram como o imperador queria. Às vezes, a multidão objetava, por exemplo, ao alto preço do trigo, ou exigia a execução de um funcionário impopular ou uma redução nos impostos. Certa vez, Calígula reagiu com raiva e enviou soldados para a multidão com ordens de executar sumariamente qualquer um que fosse visto gritando. Compreensivelmente, a multidão ficou em silêncio, embora taciturna. Mas a crescente impopularidade do imperador encorajou seus assassinos a agirem. Dio, senador e historiador, esteve presente em outra manifestação popular no Circo em 195 DC. Ele ficou surpreso com a enorme multidão (o Circo comportava até 200.000 pessoas) ao longo da pista, gritando pelo fim da guerra civil 'como um coro bem treinado '.

Dio também contou como com seus próprios olhos viu o Imperador Cômodo cortar a cabeça de um avestruz como um sacrifício na arena e caminhar em direção aos senadores reunidos que ele odiava, com a faca do sacrifício em uma das mãos e a cabeça decepada do pássaro na outra, indicando claramente, assim pensava Dio, que era o pescoço dos senadores que ele realmente queria. Anos mais tarde, Dio se lembrou de como evitava rir (de ansiedade, provavelmente) mastigando desesperadamente uma folha de louro que arrancava da guirlanda em sua cabeça.

Considere como os espectadores no anfiteatro se sentaram: o imperador em seu camarote dourado, cercado por sua família, senadores e cavaleiros, cada um tinha assentos especiais e vieram vestidos apropriadamente com suas distintas togas com bordas roxas. Os soldados foram separados dos civis. Até os cidadãos comuns tinham de usar a pesada toga de lã branca, o traje formal de um cidadão romano e sandálias, se quisessem sentar-se nas duas últimas fileiras principais de assentos. Os homens casados ​​sentavam-se separados dos solteiros, os meninos sentavam-se em um bloco separado, com seus professores no bloco seguinte. As mulheres e os homens mais pobres, vestidos com o pano cinza monótono associado ao luto, podiam sentar-se ou ficar de pé apenas na camada superior do anfiteatro. Sacerdotes e virgens vestais (homens honorários) tinham assentos reservados na frente. A vestimenta correta e a segregação de fileiras sublinhavam os elementos rituais formais da ocasião, assim como os assentos inclinados refletiam a estratificação acentuada da sociedade romana. Importava onde você se sentava e onde era visto sentado.

Os shows de gladiadores eram teatro político. A performance dramática ocorreu, não apenas na arena, mas entre diferentes seções do público. Sua interação deve ser incluída em qualquer relato completo da constituição romana. O anfiteatro era o parlamento da multidão romana. Os jogos geralmente são omitidos das histórias políticas, simplesmente porque, em nossa própria sociedade, os esportes para espectadores de massa contam como lazer. Mas os próprios romanos perceberam que o controle metropolitano envolvia "pão e circo". “O povo romano”, escreveu Marco Aurélio, “tutor de Fronto”, “é mantido unido por duas forças: pão de trigo e shows públicos”.

O interesse entusiástico por shows de gladiadores ocasionalmente se transformava no desejo de se apresentar na arena. Dois imperadores não se contentaram em ser os principais espectadores. Eles queriam ser premiados também. As ambições histriônicas de Nero e seu sucesso como músico e ator eram notórios. Ele também se orgulhava de suas habilidades como cocheiro. Commodus atuou como um gladiador no anfiteatro, embora admitidamente apenas em ataques preliminares com armas embotadas. Ele venceu todas as suas lutas e cobrou do tesouro imperial um milhão de sestércios para cada aparição (o suficiente para alimentar mil famílias por um ano). Eventualmente, ele foi assassinado quando planejava ser empossado como cônsul (em 193 DC), vestido de gladiador.

As façanhas de gladiador de Commodus eram uma expressão idiossincrática de uma cultura obcecada por luta, derramamento de sangue, ostentação e competição. Mas pelo menos sete outros imperadores praticaram como gladiadores e lutaram em lutas de gladiadores. E também senadores e cavaleiros romanos. Foram feitas tentativas de impedi-los por lei, mas as leis foram evitadas.

Os escritores romanos tentaram explicar o comportamento ultrajante desses senadores e cavaleiros chamando-os de degenerados moralmente, forçados a entrar na arena por imperadores perversos ou por sua própria devassidão. Esta explicação é claramente inadequada, embora seja difícil encontrar uma que seja muito melhor. Uma parte significativa da aristocracia romana, mesmo sob os imperadores, ainda se dedicava às proezas militares: todos os generais eram senadores, todos os oficiais superiores eram senadores ou cavaleiros. Combat in the arena gave aristocrats a chance to display their fighting skill and courage. In spite of the opprobrium and at the risk of death, it was their last chance to play soldiers in front of a large audience.

Gladiators were glamour figures, culture heroes. The probable life-span of each gladiator was short. Each successive victory brought further risk of defeat and death. But for the moment, we are more concerned with image than with reality. Modern pop-stars and athletes have only a short exposure to full-glare publicity. Most of them fade rapidly from being household names into obscurity, fossilised in the memory of each generation of adolescent enthusiasts. The transience of the fame of each does not diminish their collective importance.

So too with Roman gladiators. Their portraits were often painted. Whole walls in public porticos were sometimes covered with life-size portraits of all the gladiators in a particular show. The actual events were magnified beforehand by expectation and afterwards by memory. Street advertisements stimulated excitement and anticipation. Hundreds of Roman artefacts – sculptures, figurines, lamps, glasses – picture gladiatorial fights and wild-beast shows. In conversation and in daily life, chariot-races and gladiatorial fights were all the rage. 'When you enter the lecture halls', wrote Tacitus, 'what else do you hear the young men talking about?' Even a baby's nursing bottle, made of clay and found at Pompeii, was stamped with the figure of a gladiator. It symbolised the hope that the baby would imbibe a gladiator's strength and courage.

The victorious gladiator, or at least his image, was sexually attractive. Graffiti from the plastered walls of Pompeii carry the message:

Celadus [a stage name, meaning Crowd's Roar], thrice victor and thrice crowned, the young girls' heart-throb, and Crescens the Netter of young girls by night.

The ephemera of AD 79 have been preserved by volcanic ash. Even the defeated gladiator had something sexually portentous about him. It was customary, so it is reported, for a new Roman 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.

The Latin word for sword – gladius – was vulgarly used to mean penis. Several artefacts also suggest this association. A small bronze figurine from Pompeii depicts a cruel-looking gladiator fighting off with his sword a dog-like wild-beast which grows out of his erect and elongated penis. Five bells hang down from various parts of his body and a hook is attached to the gladiator's head"so that the whole ensemble could hang as a bell in a doorway. Interpretation must be speculative. But this evidence suggests that there was a close link, in some Roman minds, between gladiatorial fighting and sexuality. And it seems as though gladiatoral bravery for some Roman men represented an attractive yet dangerous, almost threatening, macho masculinity.

Gladiators attracted women, even though most of them were slaves. Even if they were free or noble by origin, they were in some sense contaminated by their close contact with death. Like suicides, gladiators were in some places excluded from normal burial grounds. Perhaps their dangerous ambiguity was part of their sexual attraction. They were, according to the Christian Tertullian, both loved and despised: 'men give them their souls, women their bodies too'. Gladiators were 'both glorified and degraded'.

In a vicious satire, the poet Juvenal ridiculed a senator's wife, Eppia, who had eloped to Egypt with her favourite swordsman:

What was the youthful charm that so fired Eppia? What hooked her? What did she see in him to make her put up with being called 'The Gladiator's Moll'? Her poppet, her Sergius, was no chicken, with a dud arm that prompted hope of early retirement. Besides, his face looked a proper mess, helmet scarred, a great wart on his nose, an unpleasant discharge always trickling from one eye, But he was a Gladiator. That word makes the whole breed seem handsome, and made her prefer him to her children and country, her sister and husband. Steel is what they fall in love with.

Satire certainly, and exaggerated, but pointless unless it was also based to some extent in reality. Modern excavators, working in the armoury of the gladiatorial barracks in Pompeii found eighteen skeletons in two rooms, presumably of gladiators caught there in an ash storm they included only one woman, who was wearing rich gold jewellery, and a necklace set with emeralds. Occasionally, women's attachment to gladiatorial combat went further. They fought in the arena themselves. In the storeroom of the British Museum, for example, there is a small stone relief, depicting two female gladiators, one with breast bare, called Amazon and Achillia. Some of these female gladiators were free women of high status.

Behind the brave facade and the hope of glory, there lurked the fear of death. 'Those about to die salute you, Emperor'. Only one account survives of what it was like from the gladiator's point of view. It is from a rhetorical exercise. The story is told by a rich young man who had been captured by pirates and was then sold on as a slave to a gladiatorial trainer:

And so the day arrived. Already the populace had gathered for the spectacle of our punishment, and the bodies of those about to die had their own death-parade across the arena. The presenter of the shows, who hoped to gain favour with our blood, took his seat. Although no one knew my birth, my fortune, my family, one fact made some people pity me I seemed unfairly matched. I was destined to be a certain victim in the sand. All around I could hear the instruments of death: a sword being sharpened, iron plates being heated in a fire [to stop fighters retreating and to prove that they were not faking death], birch-rods and whips were prepared. One would have imagined that these were the pirates. The trumpets sounded their foreboding notes stretchers for the dead were brought on, a funeral parade before death. Everywhere I could see wounds, groans, blood, danger.

He went on to describe his thoughts, his memories in the moments when he faced death, before he was dramatically and conveniently rescued by a friend. That was fiction. In real life gladiators died.

Why did Romans popularise fights to the death between armed gladiators? Why did they encourage the public slaughter of unarmed criminals? What was it which transformed men who were timid and peaceable enough in private, as Tertullian put it, and made them shout gleefully for the merciless destruction of their fellow men? Part of the answer may lie in the simple development of a tradition, which fed on itself and its own success. Men liked blood and cried out for more. Part of the answer may also lie in the social psychology of the crowd, which relieved individuals of responsibility for their actions, and in the psychological mechanisms by which some spectators identified more easily with the victory of the aggressor than with the sufferings of the vanquished. Slavery and the steep stratification of society must also have contributed. Slaves were at the mercy of their owners. Those who were destroyed for public edification and entertainment were considered worthless, as non-persons or, like Christian martyrs, they were considered social outcasts, and tortured as one Christian martyr put it 'as if we no longer existed'. The brutalisation of the spectators fed on the dehumanisation of the victims.

Rome was a cruel society. Brutality was built into its culture in private life, as well as in public shows. The tone was set by military discipline and by slavery. The state had no legal monopoly of capital punishment until the second century AD. Before then, a master could crucify his slaves publicly if he wished. Seneca recorded from his own observations the various ways in which crucifixions were carried out, in order to increase pain. At private dinner-parties, rich Romans regularly presented two or three pairs of gladiators: 'when they have finished dining and are filled with drink', wrote a critic in the time of Augustus, 'they call in the gladiators. As soon as one has his throat cut, the diners applaud with delight'. It is worth stressing that we are dealing here not with individual sadistic psycho-pathology, but with a deep cultural difference. Roman commitment to cruelty presents us with a cultural gap which it is difficult to cross.

Popular gladiatorial shows were a by-product of war, discipline and death. For centuries, Rome had been devoted to war and to the mass participation of citizens in battle. They won their huge empire by discipline and control. Public executions were a gruesome reminder to non-combatants, citizens, subjects and slaves, that vengeance would be exacted if they rebelled or betrayed their country. The arena provided a living enactment of the hell portrayed by Christian preachers. Public punishment ritually re-established the moral and political order. The power of the state was dramatically reconfirmed.

When long-term peace came to the heartlands of the empire, after 31 BC, militaristic traditions were preserved at Rome in the domesticated battlefield of the amphitheatre. War had been converted into a game, a drama repeatedly replayed, of cruelty, violence, blood and death. But order still needed to be preserved. The fear of death still had to be assuaged by ritual. In a city as large as Rome, with a population of close on a million by the end of the last century BC, without an adequate police force, disorder always threatened.

Gladiatorial shows and public executions reaffirmed the moral order, by the sacrifice of human victims – slaves, gladiators, condemned criminals or impious Christians. Enthusiastic participation, by spectators rich and poor, raised and then released collective tensions, in a society which traditionally idealised impassivity. Gladiatorial shows provided a psychic and political safety valve for the metropolitan population. Politically, emperors risked occasional conflict, but the populace could usually be diverted or fobbed off. The crowd lacked the coherence of a rebellious political ideology. By and large, it found its satisfaction in cheering its support of established order. At the psychological level, gladiatorial shows provided a stage for shared violence and tragedy. Each show reassured spectators that they had yet again survived disaster. Whatever happened in the arena, the spectators were on the winning side. 'They found comfort for death' wrote Tertullian with typical insight, 'in murder'.

Keith Hopkins is Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Brunel University and the author of Conquerors and Slaves (CUP, 1978).


Today, the idea of gladiators fighting to the death, and of an amphitheatre where this could take place watched by an enthusiastic audience, epitomises the depths to which the Roman Empire was capable of sinking. Yet, to the Romans themselves, the institution of the arena was one of the defining features of their civilisation.

Gladiators . were an expensive investment, not to be despatched lightly.

Hardly any contemporary voices questioned the morality of staging gladiatorial combat. And the gladiators' own epitaphs mention their profession without shame, apology, or resentment. So who were these gladiators, and what was their role in Roman society?

The Romans believed that the first gladiators were slaves who were made to fight to the death at the funeral of a distinguished aristocrat, Junius Brutus Pera, in 264 BC. This spectacle was arranged by the heirs of the deceased to honour his memory.

Gradually gladiatorial spectacle became separated from the funerary context, and was staged by the wealthy as a means of displaying their power and influence within the local community. Advertisements for gladiatorial displays have survived at Pompeii, painted by professional sign-writers on house-fronts, or on the walls of tombs clustered outside the city-gates. The number of gladiators to be displayed was a key attraction: the larger the figure, the more generous the sponsor was perceived to be, and the more glamorous the spectacle.

Most gladiators were slaves. They were subjected to a rigorous training, fed on a high-energy diet, and given expert medical attention. Hence they were an expensive investment, not to be despatched lightly.

For a gladiator who died in combat the trainer (lanista) might charge the sponsor of the fatal spectacle up to a hundred times the cost of a gladiator who survived. Hence it was very much more costly for sponsors to supply the bloodshed that audiences often demanded, although if they did allow a gladiator to be slain it was seen as an indication of their generosity.

Remarkably, some gladiators were not slaves but free-born volunteers. The chief incentive was probably the down-payment that a volunteer received upon taking the gladiatorial oath. This oath meant that the owner of his troupe had ultimate sanction over the gladiator's life, assimilating him to the status of a slave (ie a chattel).

Some maverick emperors with a perverted sense of humour made upper-class Romans (of both sexes) fight in the arena. But, as long as they did not receive a fee for their participation, such persons would be exempt from the stain of infamia, the legal disability that attached to the practitioners of disreputable professions such as those of gladiators, actors and prostitutes.


Ursos

Bears appear a few times in the history of warfare, but one bear in particular became famous for his exploits against the Germans during World War II.

Voytek was a Syrian brown bear cub adopted by troops from a Polish supply company who purchased him while they were stationed in Iran. The bear grew up drinking condensed milk from a vodka bottle and drinking beer. When the Polish troops were moved around as the war progressed, Voytek went too: to battle zones in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt and then Italy.

Soon, Voytek had grown to weigh more than 880 pounds (400 kg) and stood more than 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall. In time, he was enlisted as a private soldier in the supply company, with his own paybook, rank and serial number, and eventually rose to the rank of corporal in the Polish Army. In 1944, Voytek was sent with his unit to Monte Casino in Italy, during one of bloodiest series of battles of World War II, where he helped carry crates of ammunition.

In his later years, Voytek lived at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, where he’d been stationed with his adopted supply company at the end of the war. He became a popular public figure in the United Kingdom, and often appeared on children’s television shows until his death in 1963.


How Did Roman Gladiators Train?

Roman gladiators were put through rigorous physical and psychological training that included instructions on how to behave, how to die and how to perform various war and combat tactics to stay alive during fights. Roman gladiators were thoroughly examined by physicians and trainers before being allowed to join training camps. Once accepted, gladiators learned how to use various tools such as shields and wooden swords, and how to ride horses to give themselves the greatest advantage during combat.

Gladiators were often trained in special training schools. Over 100 training facilities existed in ancient Rome, which looked and operated like prison systems. Gladiators were essentially prisoners, although they were deemed valuable because of their roles as soldiers, which allowed them to receive better treatment than other slaves. Gladiators came in many sizes, and had different sets of skills that made them valuable for different combat situations. Some proved to have exceptionally good equine handling skills and served as horseback-mounted soldiers. Other gladiators, particularly the largest and most athletic men, were trained to engage in hand-to-hand combat on the battlefield. Some gladiators were equipped with minimal amounts of equipment, which allowed them to run quickly and launch rapid attacks, while others were heavily armed.


What Animals Did Gladiators Fight?

The gladiators that fought animals, known as bestiarii, fought a variety of vicious mammals, including bears, lions, leopards, panthers and bulls. Contrary to popular belief, the bestiarii were distinct from gladiators. There were two types: those who were criminals or prisoners condemned to death by fighting animals, known as damnatio ad bestias, and those who volunteered to combat animals for pay or glory, known as venatio.

The animals fought by these bestiarii were mainly vicious predators. The most popular animal to fight was the lion, and there are many accounts of both prisoners and fighters being devoured. According to Roman orator Cicero, there was once a single lion that devoured more than 200 prisoners. More often than not, a single lion in combat with multiple men would emerge victorious.

Depending on the particular event, the animal could change. The most popular animals used for punishment were bears, leopards, Caspian tigers, black panthers and bulls. In some events, where the combatants were in it for sport rather than punishment, the animals could include crocodiles, hyenas, elephants, wild boars, buffalo, lynxes, giraffes, ostriches, deer, hares, antelopes and zebra. The latter animals were used to watch the hunt rather than to see an actual fight between men and beasts. Rather than purely being for sport, when prisoners were forced into combat with wild animals, it was often as a form of execution. Some prisoners were forced into the arenas naked and defenseless, and even if they defeated an animal, others would be sent in.


When did Gladiator Games begin in the Roman Republic?

The first gladiatorial games recorded in Rome took place in 264 BC when the sons of Decimus Junius Brutus organized an event for their recently deceased father. [4] After those games, there are no more records of gladiatorial events in Rome until 216 BC, probably because the Romans were too preoccupied with the increasingly tenuous geopolitical situation with Carthage, which eventually led to the Second Punic War (218-202 BC). Interestingly, the historian Livy wrote that the Carthaginian general Hannibal conducted his own blood sports-type when he invaded Rome in 218 BC. Ele escreveu:

“He formed his troops into a circle and had some prisoners, whom he had captured in the mountains, brought into the middle of it in chains. Gallic weapons were laid on the ground in front of them, and an interpreter was told to ask if any of them would be willing to fight in single combat if he were released from his chains and offered a horse, together with the weapons, as the prize of victory.” [5]

It is unknown how much Hannibal’s “games” had on the Roman blood sports, but it cannot be discounted since the Roman blood sports were quite eclectic in their origins. By the late Republic, gladiatorial games were highly institutionalized – the gladiators were well-trained and valuable prisoners of war who fought in distinct styles. All gladiators were dressed as and fought in the style of one of Rome’s three early enemies: Samnite, Thracian, and Gaul. These three designations were introduced at an early point but were retained as long as gladiators fought in Rome. [6]


The life or death of a gladiator ?

The fight of the gladiators began with a loud trumpet sound. During the gladiator games Roman orchestra consisted of trumpets, horns and water organs or hydraulos. Different types of gladiators tried to use the advantages of their weapons and they trained to defeat their opponents – while the opponent of course tried the same. The winner of a fight, always left the arena alive. He may have succumbed to his injuries afterwards, but he rarely died in front of the audience.

The loser could give up: He can threw his weapon and shield, crouch on his knees and begged for mercy with outstretched forefinger. In a true Titan fight in which no winner could be determined, they ended the fight in a draw when both gladiators at the same time throw their weapons and gave up. o editor(sponsor and organizer of the games) had called for a fight with the finger, while the audience wanted to stop this fight and finally editor and audience could agreed to this compromise. In the arena sometimes several duels took place simultaneously and each coach was a referee at each fight. So the loser had a chance to recover even if he fainted from exhaustion. As it could be seen from the mosaic on the tomb from ancient city Pompeii, there was a referee intervenes when they hold the victorious gladiator from the deathblow. The loser’s life ultimately depended whether he was a good fighter. The final decision was made always by editor during a munus (commemorative duty). When the gladiator had given up, it was important for him to face death as stoically as possible, as the audience wanted to see the death of their intrepid heroes. The audience influenced the editor, with shouts and gestures, which finally decided on the further fate of the inferior.

When the fight ended with the death of a gladiator, an servant dressed as god Mercury (gr. Hermes Psychopomps = “the soul-accompanying Hermes”) entered into arena and tested if gladiator was still alive. If the gladiator was really death, then the underworld god Charon, a masked priest and the goddess of the funerals and burial Libitina, joined in the arena. They claimed the body of the dead gladiator with the stroke of a hammer on the forehead. This method was originated from the ancient Etruscan practice, who were sacrificed animals in honor of Libitina. Mercury dragged the body with a hook through the porta Libitinensis, a small gate in the arena wall. A hook was used to avoid contact with the dead body.

If loser survived the fight but sentenced to death by the editor, there was no mercy. In that case gladiator was killed outside the arena. However, if the audience was in a particularly bloodthirsty mood, they could demand from the editor to execute gladiator looser in front of their eyes. This must be a honorable death for gladiator: he kneels down, clung to his thigh, and bowed his head. The victor gladiator held the helmet or head of the defeated one with one hand, while he severed the cervical vertebrae with his sword on the another hand. Killing the wounded gladiator in the arena was the norm among convicted criminals.


Gladiators Training

The Roman gladiators received training at special schools known as Ludi. There were a large number of such schools established across the Roman Empire. Rome itself had four famous gladiator schools. The largest and the most popular among all was the Ludus Magnus that was linked to the infamous Roman Colosseum through an underground tunnel.

Another popular training center was located at Capua. This gladiatorial school became famous in 73 BC, when the Roman gladiator, Spartacus, sparked a slave rebellion in the area against the might of the Roman Empire.

In the Ludi, the gladiators received training like professional athletes and were taught to use different combat techniques and weapons, such as lasso, war chain, trident, net, and daggers, to defeat their opponent. They were allowed to fight with the equipments and weapons of their own choice and were required to fight 2-3 times a year. Gladiators also received three full meals and proper medical attention during the training period. However, condemned criminals who were sentenced to death for a capital crime received no such training at the ludus.

Gladiators were trained to play the role of Roman enemies during the games. They wore an armor that was different from the Roman military and used non-Roman weaponry for the combats. The various roles that they played included that of a Thracian, a Secutor, a Retiarius, and a Samnite. They were paid handsome sums of money every time they survived a gladiatorial combat. They were awarded their freedom if they managed to survive 3 to 5 years of deadly combats. The one was defeated in the arena begged for life or death, while the winner received awards, like a golden bowl, a golden crown, or a gold coin with a palm leaf, symbolizing victory.

Initially, only slaves and prisoners of war were made to become gladiators and fight in the arena using their traditional weapons and equipments. Slaves were bought by lanistas, owners of the gladiators, for the sole rationale of making them fight in the bloody gladiatorial combats. More..


Could You Stomach the Horrors of 'Halftime' in Ancient Rome?

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is a New York Times best-selling nonfiction writer and poet, and the author of "Dr. Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine" (Avery, 2014), which made seven national "Best Books of 2014" lists, including those from Amazon, The Onion's AV Club, NPR's Science Friday e The Guardian, among others. Aptowicz contributed this exclusive article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The enormous arena was empty, save for the seesaws and the dozens of condemned criminals who sat naked upon them, hands tied behind their backs. Unfamiliar with the recently invented contraptions known as petaurua, the men tested the seesaws uneasily. One criminal would push off the ground and suddenly find himself 15 feet in the air while his partner on the other side of the seesaw descended swiftly to the ground. Quão strange.

In the stands, tens of thousands of Roman citizens waited with half-bored curiosity to see what would happen next and whether it would be interesting enough to keep them in their seats until the next part of the "big show" began.

With a flourish, trapdoors in the floor of the arena were opened, and lions, bears, wild boars and leopards rushed into the arena. The starved animals bounded toward the terrified criminals, who attempted to leap away from the beasts' snapping jaws. But as one helpless man flung himself upward and out of harm's way, his partner on the other side of the seesaw was sent crashing down into the seething mass of claws, teeth and fur.

The crowd of Romans began to laugh at the dark antics before them. Soon, they were clapping and yelling, placing bets on which criminal would die first, which one would last longest and which one would ultimately be chosen by the largest lion, who was still prowling the outskirts of the arena's pure white sand. [See Photos of the Combat Sports Played in Ancient Rome]

And with that, another "halftime show" of damnatio ad bestias succeeded in serving its purpose: to keep the jaded Roman population glued to their seats, to the delight of the event's scheming organizer.

Welcome to the show

The Roman Games were the Super Bowl Sundays of their time. They gave their ever-changing sponsors and organizers (known as editors) an enormously powerful platform to promote their views and philosophies to the widest spectrum of Romans. All of Rome came to the Games: rich and poor, men and women, children and the noble elite alike. They were all eager to witness the unique spectacles each new game promised its audience.

Ao editors, the Games represented power, money and opportunity. Politicians and aspiring noblemen spent unthinkable sums on the Games they sponsored in the hopes of swaying public opinion in their favor, courting votes, and/or disposing of any person or warring faction they wanted out of the way.

The more extreme and fantastic the spectacles, the more popular the Games with the general public, and the more popular the Games, the more influence the editor could have. Because the Games could make or break the reputation of their organizers, editors planned every last detail meticulously.

Thanks to films like "Ben-Hur" and "Gladiator," the two most popular elements of the Roman Games are well known even to this day: the chariot races and the gladiator fights. Other elements of the Roman Games have also translated into modern times without much change: theatrical plays put on by costumed actors, concerts with trained musicians, and parades of much-cared-for exotic animals from the city's private zoos.

But much less discussed, and indeed largely forgotten, is the spectacle that kept the Roman audiences in their seats through the sweltering midafternoon heat: the blood-spattered halftime show known as damnatio ad bestias &mdash literally "condemnation by beasts" &mdash orchestrated by men known as the bestiarii.

Super Bowl 242 B.C: How the Games Became So Brutal

The cultural juggernaut known as the Roman Games began in 242 B.C., when two sons decided to celebrate their father's life by ordering slaves to battle each other to the death at his funeral. This new variation of ancient munera (a tribute to the dead) struck a chord within the developing republic. Soon, other members of the wealthy classes began to incorporate this type of slave fighting into their own munera. The practice evolved over time &mdash with new formats, rules, specialized weapons, etc. &mdash until the Roman Games as we now know them were born.

In 189 B.C., a consul named M. Fulvius Nobilior decided to do something different. In addition to the gladiator duels that had become common, he introduced an animal act that would see humans fight both lions and panthers to the death. Big-game hunting was not a part of Roman culture Romans only attacked large animals to protect themselves, their families or their crops. Nobilior realized that the spectacle of animals fighting humans would add a cheap and unique flourish to this fantastic new pastime. Nobilior aimed to make an impression, and he succeeded. [Photos: Gladiators of the Roman Empire]

With the birth of the first "animal program," an uneasy milestone was achieved in the evolution of the Roman Games: the point at which a human being faced a snarling pack of starved beasts, and every laughing spectator in the crowd chanted for the big cats to win, the point at which the republic's obligation to make a man's death a fair or honorable one began to be outweighed by the entertainment value of watching him die.

Twenty-two years later, in 167 B.C., Aemlilus Paullus would give Rome its first damnatio ad bestias when he rounded up army deserters and had them crushed, one by one, under the heavy feet of elephants. "The act was done publicly," historian Alison Futrell noted in her book "Blood in the Arena," "a harsh object lesson for those challenging Roman authority."

The "satisfaction and relief" Romans would feel watching someone considered lower than themselves be thrown to the beasts would become, as historian Garrett G. Fagan noted in his book "The Lure of the Arena," a "central … facet of the experience [of the Roman Games. … a feeling of shared empowerment and validation … " In those moments, Rome began the transition into the self-indulgent decadence that would come to define all that we associate with the great society's demise.

The Role of Julius Caesar

General Julius Caesar proved to be the first true maestro of the Games. He understood how these events could be manipulated to inspire fear, loyalty and patriotism, and began to stage the Games in new and ingenious ways. For example, Caesar was the first to arrange fights between recently captured armies, gaining firsthand knowledge of the fighting techniques used by these conquered people and providing him with powerful insights to aid future Roman conquests, all the while demonstrating the republic's own superiority to the roaring crowd of Romans. After all, what other city was powerful enough to command foreign armies to fight each other to the death, solely for their viewing pleasure?

Caesar used exotic animals from newly conquered territories to educate Romans about the empire's expansion. In one of his games, "Animals for Show and Pleasure in Ancient Rome" author George Jennison notes that Caesar orchestrated "a hunt of four hundred lions, fights between elephants and infantry … [and] bull fighting by mounted Thessalians." Later, the first-ever giraffes seen in Rome arrived &mdash a gift to Caesar himself from a love-struck Cleopatra.

To execute his very specific visions, Caesar relied heavily on the bestiarii &mdash men who were paid to house, manage, breed, train and sometimes fight the bizarre menagerie of animals collected for the Games.

Managing and training this ever-changing influx of beasts was not an easy task for the bestiarii. Wild animals are born with a natural hesitancy, and without training, they would usually cower and hide when forced into the arena's center. For example, it is not a natural instinct for a lion to attack and eat a human being, let alone to do so in front of a crowd of 100,000 screaming Roman men, women and children! And yet, in Rome's ever-more-violent culture, disappointing an editor would spell certain death for the low-ranking bestiarii.

To avoid being executed themselves, bestiarii met the challenge. They developed detailed training regimens to ensure their animals would act as requested, feeding arena-born animals a diet compromised solely of human flesh, breeding their best animals, and allowing their weaker and smaller stock to be killed in the arena. Bestiarii even went so far as to instruct condemned men and women on how to behave in the ring to guarantee a quick death for themselves &mdash and a better show. o bestiarii could leave nothing to chance.

As their reputations grew, bestiarii were given the power to independently devise new and even more audacious spectacles for the ludi meridiani (midday executions). And by the time the Roman Games had grown popular enough to fill 250,000-seat arenas, the work of the bestiarii had become a twisted art form.

As the Roman Empire grew, so did the ambition and arrogance of its leaders. And the more arrogant, egotistic and unhinged the leader in power, the more spectacular the Games would become. Who better than the bestiarii to aid these despots in taking their version of the Roman Games to new, ever-more grotesque heights?

Caligula Amplified the Cruelty

Animal spectacles became bigger, more elaborate, and more flamboyantly cruel. Damnatio ad bestias became the preferred method of executing criminals and enemies alike. So important where the bestiarii's contribution, that when butcher meat became prohibitively expensive, Emperor Caligula ordered that all of Rome's prisoners "be devoured" by the bestiarii's packs of starving animals. In his masterwork De Vita Caesarum, Roman historian Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (b. 69 A.D.) tells of how Caligula sentenced the men to death "without examining the charges" to see if death was a fitting punishment, but rather by "merely taking his place in the middle of a colonnade, he bade them be led away 'from baldhead to baldhead,'"(It should also be noted that Caligula used the funds originally earmarked for feeding the animals and the prisoners to construct temples he was building in his own honor!)

To meet this ever-growing pressure to keep the Roman crowds happy and engaged by bloodshed, bestiarii were forced to consistently invent new ways to kill. They devised elaborate contraptions and platforms to give prisoners the illusion they could save themselves &mdash only to have the structures collapse at the worst possible moments, dropping the condemned into a waiting pack of starved animals. Prisoners were tied to boxes, lashed to stakes, wheeled out on dollies and nailed to crosses, and then, prior to the animals' release, the action was paused so that bets could be made in the crowd about which of the helpless men would be devoured first.

Perhaps most popular &mdash as well as the most difficult to pull off &mdash were the re-creations of death scenes from famous myths and legends. A single bestiarius might spend months training an eagle in the art of removing a thrashing man's organs (a la the myth of Prometheus).

The halftime show of damnatio ad bestias became so notorious that it was common for prisoners to attempt suicide to avoid facing the horrors they knew awaited them. Roman philosopher and statesmen Seneca recorded a story of a German prisoner who, rather than be killed in a bestiarius' show, killed himself by forcing a communally used prison lavatory sponge down his throat. One prisoner who refused to walk into the arena was placed on a cart and wheeled in the prisoner thrust his own head between the spokes of its wheels, preferring to break his own neck than to face whatever horrors the bestiarius had planned for him.

It is in this era that Rome saw the rise of its most famous bestiarius, Carpophorus, "The King of the Beasts."

The Rise of a Beast Master

Carpophorus was celebrated not only for training the animals that were set upon the enemies, criminals and Christians of Rome, but also for famously taking to the center of the arena to battle the most fearsome creatures himself.

He triumphed in one match that pitted him against a bear, a lion and a leopard, all of which were released to attack him at once. Another time, he killed 20 separate animals in one battle, using only his bare hands as weapons. His power over animals was so unmatched that the poet Martial wrote odes to Carpophorus.

"If the ages of old, Caesar, in which a barbarous earth brought forth wild monsters, had produced Carpophorus," he wrote in his best known work, Epigrams. "Marathon would not have feared her bull, nor leafy Nemea her lion, nor Arcadians the boar of Maenalus. When he armed his hands, the Hydra would have met a single death one stroke of his would have sufficed for the entire Chimaera. He could yoke the fire-bearing bulls without the Colchian he could conquer both the beasts of Pasiphae. If the ancient tale of the sea monster were recalled, he would release Hesione and Andromeda single-handed. Let the glory of Hercules' achievement be numbered: it is more to have subdued twice ten wild beasts at one time."

To have his work compared so fawningly to battles with some of Rome&rsquos most notorious mythological beast sheds some light on the astounding work Carpophorus was doing within the arena, but he gained fame as well for his animal work behind the scenes. Perhaps most shockingly, it was said that he was among the few bestiarii who could command animals to rape human beings, including bulls, zebras, stallions, wild boars and giraffes, among others. This crowd-pleasing trick allowed his editors para criar ludi meridiani that could not only combine sex and death but also claim to be honoring the god Jupiter. After all, in Roman mythology, Jupiter took many animal forms to have his way with human women.

Historians still debate how common of an occurrence public bestiality was at the Roman Games &mdash and especially whether forced bestiality was used as a form of execution &mdash but poets and artists of the time wrote and painted about the spectacle with a shocked awe.

"Believe that Pasiphae coupled with the Dictaean bull!" Martial wrote. "We've seen it! The Ancient Myth has been confirmed! Hoary antiquity, Caesar, should not marvel at itself: qualquer que seja Fama sings of, the arena presents to you."

The 'Gladiator' Commodus

The Roman Games and the work of the bestiarii may have reached their apex during the reign of Emperor Commodus, which began in 180 AD. By that time, the relationship between the emperors and the Senate had disintegrated to a point of near-complete dysfunction. The wealthy, powerful and spoiled emperors began acting out in such debauched and deluded ways that even the working class "plebs" of Rome were unnerved. But even in this heightened environment, Commodus served as an extreme.

Having little interest in running the empire, he left most of the day-to-day decisions to a prefect, while Commodus himself indulged in living a very public life of debauchery. His harem contained 300 girls and 300 boys (some of whom it was said had so bewitched the emperor as he passed them on the street that he felt compelled to order their kidnapping). But if there was one thing that commanded Commodus' obsession above all else, it was the Roman Games. He didn't just want to put on the greatest Games in the history of Rome he wanted to be the Estrela of them, too.

Commodus began to fight as a gladiator. Sometimes, he arrived dressed in lion pelts, to evoke Roman hero Hercules other times, he entered the ring absolutely naked to fight his opponents. To ensure a victory, Commodus only fought amputees and wounded soldiers (all of whom were given only flimsy wooden weapons to defend themselves). In one dramatic case recorded in Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Commodus ordered that all people missing their feet be gathered from the Roman streets and be brought to the arena, where he commanded that they be tethered together in the rough shape of a human body. Commodus then entered the arena's center ring, and clubbed the entire group to death, before announcing proudly that he had killed a giant.

But being a gladiator wasn't enough for him. Commodus wanted to rule the halftime show as well, so he set about creating a spectacle that would feature him as a great bestiarius. He not only killed numerous animals &mdash including lions, elephants, ostriches and giraffes, among others, all of which had to be tethered or injured to ensure the emperor's success &mdash but also killed bestiarii whom he felt were rivals (including Julius Alexander, a bestiarius who had grown beloved in Rome for his ability to kill an untethered lion with a javelin from horseback). Commodus once made all of Rome sit and watch in the blazing midday sun as he killed 100 bears in a row &mdash and then made the city pay him 1 millions esterces (ancient Roman coins) for the (unsolicited) favor.

By the time Commodus demanded the city of Rome be renamed Colonia Commodiana ("City of Commodus") &mdash Scriptores Historiae Augustae, noted that not only did the Senate "pass this resolution, but … at the same time [gave] Commodus the name Hercules, and [called] him a god" &mdash a conspiracy was already afoot to kill the mad leader. A motley crew of assassins &mdash including his court chamberlain, Commodus' favorite concubine, and "an athlete called Narcissus, who was employed as Commodus' wrestling partner" &mdash joined forces to kill him and end his unhinged reign. His death was supposed to restore balance and rationality to Rome &mdash but it didn't. By then, Rome was broken &mdash bloody, chaotic and unable to stop its death spiral.

In an ultimate irony, reformers who stood up to oppose the culture's violent and debauched disorder were often punished by death at the hands of the bestiarii, their deaths cheered on by the very same Romans whom they were trying to protect and save from destruction.

The Death of the Games and the Rise of Christianity

As the Roman Empire declined, so did the size, scope and brutality of its Games. However, it seems fitting that one of the most powerful seeds of the empire's downfall could be found within its ultimate sign of contempt and power &mdash the halftime show of damnatio ad bestias.

Early Christians were among the most popular victims in ludi meridiani. The emperors who condemned these men, women and children to public death by beasts did so with the obvious hope that the spectacle would be so horrifying and humiliating that it would discourage any other Romans from converting to Christianity.

Little did they realize that the tales of brave Christians facing certain death with grace, power and humility made them some of the earliest martyr stories. Nor could they have imagined that these oft-repeated narratives would then serve as invaluable tools to drive more people toward the Christian faith for centuries to come.

In the end, who could have ever imagined that these near-forgotten "halftime shows" might prove to have a more lasting impact on the world than the gladiators and chariot races that had overshadowed the bestiarii for their entire existence?

Follow all of the Expert Voices issues and debates &mdash and become part of the discussion &mdash on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on Live Science.


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