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Fighting cocks in Rome

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

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 color of the skin.

Both species 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 travelers. Gradually, cockfights also appeared in the 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 birds 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 who 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, the 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.

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