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Brutal games

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Roman fresco with animals
Roman fresco with animals

Despite the fact that the Romans over the years have organized bloody games on an increasing scale, some emperors tried to curb the bestiality. Already at the beginning of rule of Augustus, he tried to change the Roman customs – after the profusion of Julius Caesar and earlier Gnaeus Pompeius – and restore the Greek games, where more attention was paid to sports competitions. The games called Actiaca were held for the first time in 28 BCE and they were to take place every 4 years, celebration o won battle of Actium.
However, those were ridiculed by poets (Martial or Juvenal). Hadrian, on the other hand, forbade the insertion into the ranks of gladiators slaves, who did not agree for that. Aurelius also limited the funds for munera – the fight to the death, which took place outside of Rome. However, the so-called munus was difficult to root out. Emperors Titus, Trajan or Marcus Aurelius have ordered to extend in the program a part called lusio – so mock fight for life and death. However, it is difficult to treat it as an expression of kindness or a manifestation of humanitarianism. On the occasion of the opening of the Colosseum, in the year 80 CE, during Titus’ reign, was to die in total 5, 000 animals, while during Trajan in 2 days were killed 2246 animals.

  • J. Carcopino, Widowiska, p. 235

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