Games of Ancient Rome. "We who are about to die salute you!”. Contents. Origins of games Height of popularity Culture of Violence Gladiators and associated roles Amphitheatres and arenas Decline in popularity. Map of Roman Republic Italy and its colonies. Origins of Games.
"We who are about to die salute you!”
Mosaic found in Pompeii
Why do the people get angry at gladiators and so nastily that they think it an injury because [the gladiators] do not perish willingly? [The people] believe that they have been scorned and in facial expression, gesture, and passion are turned from a spectator into an opponent.
- Seneca -
...we despise gladiators if they are willing to do anything to preserve their life; we favour them, if they give evidence of their contempt for it.
- Seneca -
War was a high-stakes proposition, both for the Romans and their opponents. Thousands of Roman soldiers died in Italy and abroad in countless battles. Roman treatment of the enemy could be very harsh, sometimes even involving the slaughter of civilians.
Mosaic showing a retiarius (net-fighter) named Kalendio fighting a secutor named Astyanax’ In the bottom image, the secutor is covered in the retiarius\'s net, but doesn\'t seem to be hindered. In the later image, Kalendio is on the ground, wounded, and raises his dagger to surrender. The arena employees await his fate from the editor, not pictured. The inscription above it shows the sign for "null" and the name of Kalendio, implying that he was killed.
Mosaic from the villa at Nennig.
The Zliten mosaic is a Roman floor mosaic from about the 2nd century CE (between 100-199), found in the town of Zliten in Libya.
The mosaic depicts different types of games:
Referees/musicians and combat between equites
a retiarius and secutor, a Thraex and murmillo, a hoplomachus and murmilloin battle
Venationes (animal hunts)
Damnatio ad bestias(condemnation to beasts)
You can see the images from the previous slide around the edge of the mosaic.
Much of the mosaic is damaged however it does give us (as historians) an insight into the attitude of Romans about Gladiatorial combat and games. They enjoyed it so much that they honoured their sporting heroes in mosaics throughout their homes.
“About this time [AD 59] there was a serious fight between the inhabitants of two Roman settlements, Nuceria and Pompeii. It arose out of a trifling incident at a gladiatorial show....During an exchange of taunts—characteristic of these disorderly country towns—abuse led to stone-throwing, and then swords were drawn. The people of Pompeii, where the show was held, came off best. Many wounded and mutilated Nucerians were taken to the capital. Many bereavements, too, were suffered by parents and children. The emperor instructed the senate to investigate the affair. The senate passed it to the consuls. When they reported back, the senate debarred Pompeii from holding any similar gathering for ten years. Illegal associations in the town were dissolved; and the sponsor of the show and his fellow-instigators of the disorders were exiled.”- Tacitus -