This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Fighting cocks in Rome

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Fighting roosters on the Roman mosaic
Fighting roosters on the Roman mosaic

Everyone who was chased in the backyard by a rooster knows that the animal is practically fearless and is very warlike. These important character traits determined that people from time immemorial staged a fight between cocks.

Probably the first cockfights took place in South Asia, where the ancestor of today’s chicken Gallus gallus was popular. With time, this species was crossed with the wild and violent species of Gallus sonneratii. This mixing of genes meant that modern chickens are distinguished by the yellow colour of their skin.

Both cocks were trained and fed only to fight each other to the delight of the viewers. Quite quickly, the staging of cockfights became a sport that was also spread in the Middle East. We owe the transfer of entertainment mainly to soldiers, merchants and travellers. Gradually, cockfights also appeared in Greece, where watching such spectacles simply became fashionable.

With the conquest of Greece in the second century BCE sport spread in the Roman Republic. Initially, the Romans considered the bird’s rivalry as ridiculous entertainment and another “Greek quirkiness”. With time, however, cockfights became more and more popular, especially among the poor. This does not mean, however, that the higher social classes did not notice this phenomenon. Silver coins and beautiful mosaics showing birds’ fights have survived to this day, which proves that this entertainment-filled some everyday life. During the reign of Emperor Tiberius and Claudius, started to appear trainers of cocks lived from betting.

As the Roman Empire spread throughout the lands of Africa, the Middle East and Europe, the custom of displaying cockfight battles spread throughout all of these lands. After the fall of Rome, bloody entertainment was still cultivated, but in medieval Europe. Currently, it is one of the most popular forms of gambling in Latin America and Asia.

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

If you like the content that I collect on the website and that I share on social media channels I will be grateful for supporting me. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server.

Support IMPERIUM ROMANUM!

Support IMPERIUM ROMANUM!

News from world of ancient Rome

If you want to be up to date with newest articles on website and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter, which is sent each Saturday.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Subscribe to newsletter

Roman bookstore

I encourage you to buy interesting books about the history of ancient Rome and antiquity.

Check out bookstore

Roman bookstore

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: