Gladiatorial Contest in Rome
Rome was a warrior state. Since the state was a great fighting state in their time, the wars sort of formed the gladiatorial contest in ancient Rome. The Romans were fascinated and pleasured by violence, bloodshed, and human suffering the gladiatorial games.
The gladiatorial contests began at the reign of their first emperor Augustus to pay tribute to their warrior traditions. The Romans built artificial battlefields within amphitheaters in cities and towns for public entertainment. It is very obvious that gladiatorial contest were important because of the enormous size of the amphitheaters.
In A.D. 80, the Colosseum, which seated fifty thousand people, was used to accompany a hundred days of games. On one of the days three thousand men fought and on another day nine thousand animals were killed. The public killings of men and animals were a Roman rite believing that this was a religious sacrifice.
Everyone in Rome was not entertained by these barbaric acts. The philosophers and Christians lobbied against such events. To little effect the gladiatorial games continued until the early fifth century A.D. and wild-beast killings went on until the sixth century.
Evidence suggests that the contest was part of the Roman funeral process. A Christian critic named Tertullian at the end of the second century wrote, “Once upon a time, men believed that the souls of the dead were propitiated by human blood, and so at the funerals they sacrificed prisoners of war of slaves of poor quality bought for the purpose.”
In 246 B.C., two nobles in honor of their deceased father, held the first recorded gladiatorial event with only six gladiators. But over the next two hundred years, the contests started to become common and gain popularity resulting in the increase of gladiatorial shows. An example of a gladiatorial show was in 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar dedicated the games to his dead daughter and the victory over Gaul and Egypt. Caesar didn’t have only the traditional individual fights, but also he had fights between whole detachments of an infantry and between squadrons of cavalry who were mounted on horses and elephants. The games consisted of professional gladiators, prisoners of war, and death row criminals.
After the popularity of the gladiatorial games, the religious value still remained. Those who attended the games were dressed up as gods. The slaves were dressed up as the god of Mercury. The people who dragged away the dead bodies were dressed as Pluto, the god of the underworld. When Christians were persecuted, the were sometimes led around the arena in a procession dressed up as priests and priestesses of pagan cults, before the were thrown to wild beast naked. All of these events performed presented human...