Roman Games (Origins And Effect On Society)

2762 words - 12 pages

"I happened to call in at a midday show in the ampitheartre, expecting some sport, fun and relaxation. It was just the opposite. By comparison the fights that had already taken place were merciful. Now they really get down to business - it's sheer murder. In the morning men are thrown to the lions or bears - at noon they are thrown to the spectators." - Seneca.Religion is the quest for the values of an ideal life and the recognition on the part of a man of a controlling superhuman power entitled to obedience, reverence, and worship.It is a construct of the human mind, but why does religion exist? Why are we here? These are common questions that we ask ourselves and have throughout history ...view middle of the document...

Leaders and influential men in Rome saw the effect that the contests had on the public but the fact remained that the games could only be put on at the funeral of a important man.The munera remained relatively small, although the contests had grown steadily; they weren't at the state of regular use, that was until the beginning of the transformation of the republic in circa 100 BC.Julius Caesar changed the face of the games forever when he placed the games on a date to mark the anniversary of the death of his daughter Julia, nine years earlier. Caesar had noted the impact of the games on society, and we see that the games are gradually losing their religious orientations and are becoming regular events that can be put on at any time, rather than having to wait for the death of someone important. Caesar and following leaders now had the power to put on games on regularly and had the freedom to how the games were organised. Slaves were used to fight and were not trained to fight; however this was to change.As the games or munera grew in their intensity, so did the variety of Gladiators that fought. In 63 AD, Nero introduced female Gladiators into the arena and "Caesar filled the Comitium, the Forum, its adjacent basilicas, and the Capital itself with a display" ""Suetonius.The size of the crowds and their diversity grew steadily, and as the popularity of the games increased, so did the interests of the Roman government, "Caesar also put on a gladiatorial show, but had collected so immense a troop that his terrified political opponents rushed a bill through the House, limiting the number of gladiators that anyone might keep in Rome; consequently far fewer pairs fought than had been advertised." -Suetonius.By the late republic, the munera had changed completely. Not only were humans battling, but lions, bears, bulls, hippopotamuses, panthers, and crocodiles were part of the show. As many as 10,000 animals were killed on one occasion, "Wild beast hunts took place five days running, and the entertainment ended with a battle between two armies, each consisting of 500 infantry, twenty elephants, and thirty cavalry." -Suetonius.The games continued to change and were used for different reasons, including the executions of criminals and punishment, "Their deaths were made farcical. Dressed in wild animals' skins, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or made into torches to be ignited after dark as substitutes for daylight." ""Suetonius.The Gladiators had traditionally been slaves or prisoners of war, but by the early empire there were four gladiatorial schools, which were controlled by the state. Aristocrats demanded that the quality of Gladiators available to fight must develop.The gladiatorial contests evolved into a symbolic re-enactment of Roman military success with prisoners of war and every ethnic origin being brought to Rome as Gladiators including Gauls, Spaniards, Arabs, Thracians, Germans, Asians, Syrians, and Greeks.With some games...

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