¿Se entrenaron los animales utilizados para el combate de gladiadores en Roma?

¿Se entrenaron los animales utilizados para el combate de gladiadores en Roma?

¿Fueron los animales utilizados para el combate de gladiadores en Roma 100% salvajes, o fueron entrenados de alguna manera (ya sea con fines de entretenimiento como los animales de circo de hoy, o para pelear como se entrenan los perros de pelea en la actualidad)?

Si importa, los que más me interesan son los grandes felinos.

Inspirado por el comentario de apoorv020 sobre mi pregunta anterior.


RESPUESTA CORTA

Para la pregunta principal, "¿Se entrenaron los animales utilizados para el combate de gladiadores en Roma?", La respuesta es un sí matizado. Los grandes felinos y osos a veces fueron entrenados para ser más feroces y atacar a los humanos., pero se utilizaron principalmente (1) para matar a condenados desarmados o mal armados, (2) en cacerías donde fueron asesinados por venatores (cazadores generalmente armados con una lanza, espada o flechas), o (3) en luchas contra bestiarii, un tipo de gladiador entrenado específicamente para matar animales. Desafortunadamente, las fuentes antiguas a menudo no brindan detalles, pero parece que la mayoría de los gladiadores típicamente lucharon contra otros gladiadores en lugar de contra animales.

Para la otra pregunta sobre el uso de animales entrenados en otras formas de entretenimiento, la respuesta es (más definida) sí. Marcial (m. Circa 103 d. C.), Séneca (m. 65 d. C.) y otros citan varios ejemplos, entre ellos elefantes lanzando flechas y caminando sobre la cuerda floja y un león entrenado para no dañar a una liebre. Plinio el Viejo (m. 79 d.C.) también señala que Mark Anthony (m. 30 d.C.) tenía un carro tirado por leones.

Sin embargo, sobre todo por razones económicas y prácticas, las fuentes antiguas generalmente implican que la mayoría de los miles de animales que aparecieron en la arena no estaban entrenados. Los ejemplos mencionados en esta respuesta deben considerarse casos excepcionales para circunstancias especiales o momentos destacados de los juegos en los que se necesitaba entrenamiento para garantizar un desempeño exitoso.


DETALLES

1. Animales entrenados para pelear y / o matar

Un problema con las fuentes antiguas es que a menudo carecen de información específica sobre quién luchó o cazó a los animales, y si esos animales fueron entrenados o no. Por ejemplo, Livy (Bk 39, ch 22) escribió:

Luego, durante diez días, con gran magnificencia, Marco Fulvio pronunció los juegos que había jurado durante la guerra etólica [191 - 189 a. C.]. 2 También vinieron muchos actores de Grecia para hacerle honor. También se realizó entonces por primera vez un concurso de atletas un espectáculo para los romanos y se dio una cacería de leones y panteras,…

Casio Dio relató cómo Pompeyo (m. 48 a. C.) hizo que dieciocho elefantes lucharan contra hombres armados; desafortunadamente, no se dan detalles sobre quiénes eran los hombres armados o si los elefantes fueron entrenados en absoluto, tal vez no, porque las bestias parecían no defenderse y (muy inusualmente) se ganaron la compasión de la audiencia.

Dado (como Mark Olsen señala en un comentario) los enormes desembolsos económicos y que decepcionar a la multitud se reflejaría mal en quien organizó los juegos, es muy probable que los animales en las actuaciones clave fueran entrenados (es decir, para evitar el error que cometió Pompeyo). No se menciona, por ejemplo, la insatisfacción de la multitud en los juegos Flavios cuando Cassius Dio informa que

Hubo una batalla entre grullas y también entre cuatro elefantes

Como las grullas y los elefantes generalmente solo se vuelven agresivos cuando se ven amenazados, parece probable que hayan sido entrenados, o al menos provocados (pero se trata de animales que luchan contra animales en lugar de humanos). En el adiestramiento animal, más útil es esto de Novatianus:

Una bestia salvaje es entrenada con gentil cuidado para que, a su vez, sirva para castigar a un hombre y actuar con mayor furia ante los ojos de los espectadores. Un animal adiestrado recibe instrucciones; tal vez hubiera sido menos feroz, si su amo aún más cruel no lo hubiera entrenado para actuar con ferocidad.

Fuente: Novatianus, 'The Spectacles'

Incluso hay casos de leones entrenados para comerse a los hombres. Uno de esos incidentes disgustó mucho a los emperadores Claudio (m. 54 d.C.) (ver más abajo) y Marco Aurelio (m. 180 d.C.):

Dio 60.13.4, Loeb. Dio, 72.29.3-4, dice que M. Aurelius se negó a ver a un león entrenado para comerse a los hombres y rechazó las demandas de los espectadores de que se liberara al entrenador de leones.

Fuente: D. G. Kyle, 'Espectáculos de muerte en la antigua Roma' (1998)

De manera más general, Kyle afirma:

Incluso las bestias feroces (por ejemplo, leones y leopardos) tenían que ser especialmente entrenadas, y probablemente pasar hambre, para convertirse en 'devoradores de hombres'. Dio dice que el despreocupado Claudio disfrutaba viendo a los humanos asesinados por humanos o destrozados (analoumenoi) por animales, pero mató a un león 'que había sido entrenado para comer (esthiein) hombres y, por lo tanto, complació enormemente a la multitud, afirmando que era no conviene que los romanos contemplen semejante espectáculo '

Sin embargo, también hay evidencia de que esta capacitación no siempre funcionó:

Incluso las bestias entrenadas no siempre eran eficientes o confiables. Aunque los entrenadores los provocaban con fuego y látigos, y los cristianos, según las instrucciones, los invitaban con gestos, las bestias desorientadas a veces no atacaban a las víctimas o se volvían contra el personal de la arena.

Fuente: Kyle

En una nota a pie de página, Kyle cita ejemplos (de Martial y Plutarch) de leones que se vuelven contra sus cuidadores en lugar de las víctimas previstas. También,

el registro de la última exhibición de animales en el año 281 d. C. documenta que 100 leones de crin fueron sacrificados a las puertas de sus jaulas porque se negaron a irse.

Fuente: Kyle

También está esta pieza interesante sobre Nero y un león entrenado, no un caso de combate real sino uno planeado del que Nero parece haberse retirado:

Según Suetonio, Ner. 53, Nerón planeaba hacerse pasar por Hércules: tenía un león entrenado para que pudiera matarlo en la arena con un garrote o estrangulándolo.

Fuente: Kyle


2. Aquellos que lucharon o cazaron a los animales.

Sobre los hombres que lucharon contra los animales, el bestiarii originalmente eran simplemente prisioneros mal armados enviados a la arena con la expectativa de que serían asesinados por animales como leones y osos, por lo que estos no pueden considerarse gladiadores. Sin embargo, algunos emergieron como hábiles luchadores de animales especializados y el emperador Domiciano (m. 96 d.C.) estableció el Ludus Matutinus, específicamente para entrenar. bestiarii luchar contra los animales. Uno famoso bestiario era Carpophorus, mencionado por Martial en En los espectáculos públicos de Domiciano

También importantes en el entretenimiento romano fueron venatores, a veces definido como un tipo de gladiador que se especializa en la caza de animales. Otro venatores se especializó en la caza de animales en estado salvaje, capturándolos en las provincias para que pudieran ser enviados a Roma.

"En este mosaico, se está realizando una venatio bajo la égida de Diana ... y Dionisio, domador de animales, que lleva un bastón con una cabeza en forma de media luna ... Los leopardos, ellos mismos, están rodeados de guirnaldas. Las dos divinidades indican el carácter religioso de estos juegos ... Los venatores, ellos mismos, son una compañía profesional de cazadores de bestias, los Telegenii, que se habían contratado para actuar, uno de los cuales está luchando sobre zancos cortos ". Fuente de imagen y texto


3. Animales entrenados para entretenimiento "no letal"

Séneca observó que

osos y leones, con el buen uso, serán llevados a adular a sus amos

y

Algunas personas tienen la habilidad de recuperar las bestias más feroces; harán que un león abrace a su cuidador, un tigre lo bese y un elefante se arrodille ante él.

Fuente: Séneca, 'Morals'

Otro ejemplo de león domesticado proviene de Martial:

Martial estaba impresionado de que los leones en la arena fueran lo suficientemente disciplinados como para agarrar liebres, sujetarlas con las mandíbulas y luego dejarlas caer ilesas.

Fuente: L. J. Hawtree, 'Wild Animals in Roman Epic' (PhD, 2011)

Plinio parece particularmente aficionado a los elefantes, relatando que

En la exhibición de gladiadores que ofreció Germanicus, los elefantes realizaron una especie de danza con sus movimientos toscos e irregulares. Era común verlos lanzar flechas con tanta fuerza, que el viento no podía desviarlos de su curso, imitar entre sí los combates de los gladiadores y retozar con los pasos de la danza pírrica. Después de esto, también caminaron sobre la cuerda floja, y cuatro de ellos llevaban una litera en la que yacía un quinto, que representaba a una mujer acostada. Luego tomaron su lugar; y manejaban tan bien sus pasos, que ni siquiera tocaron a ninguno de los que estaban bebiendo allí.

Fuente: Plinio el Viejo, 'Historia Natural Bk 8 Ch2'

Plinio también habla de Mark Anthony, quien

sometió a los leones al yugo, y fue el primero en Roma en atarlos a su carro ...

y comenta que

... fue algo que superó incluso los espectáculos más monstruosos que se podían ver en ese período calamitoso.

Fuente: Plinio el Viejo, 'Historia Natural Bk 8 Ch21'

Finalmente, la Historia Augusta registra que el emperador Elagabalus (m. 222 d. C.) tenía carros tirados por camellos, leones, tigres y ciervos.


Otras fuentes:

Paul Christesen Donald G Kyle (eds.) 'Un compañero del deporte y el espectáculo en la antigüedad griega y romana'

Keith Hopkins y Mary Beard, 'El Coliseo'

Nicholas Lindberg, 'El emperador y sus animales: la adquisición de bestias exóticas para los venationes imperiales'. En Grecia y Roma, vol. 66 número 2


Dependería de qué tipo de animal era y qué tipo de entretenimiento proporcionaría. En esta página se puede encontrar una lista de los animales que participaron en los eventos.

Algunos animales, como cebras y avestruces, fueron entrenados para que pudieran tirar de carros. A otros animales se les enseñó a hacer trucos. Con la enorme variedad de animales que participaron en los numerosos eventos, algunos se utilizaron solo para "cacerías" o se lanzaron contra un gladiador en una pelea a muerte.

Los animales más exóticos que se utilizaron en "cacerías" o se lanzaron contra un gladiador en una lucha a muerte eran probablemente animales salvajes sin entrenamiento.

Además, algunos eventos de gladiadores involucraron la liberación de manadas de animales a la arena solo para que pudieran ser sacrificados. No habría tenido sentido entrenar a estos animales.


Juegos asesinos: Concursos de gladiadores en la antigua Roma

Los espectáculos de gladiadores convirtieron la guerra en un juego, preservaron una atmósfera de violencia en tiempos de paz y funcionaron como un teatro político que permitía el enfrentamiento entre gobernantes y gobernados.

Roma era un estado guerrero. Después de la derrota de Cartago en 201 a. C., Roma se embarcó en dos siglos de expansión imperial casi continua. Al final de este período, Roma controlaba toda la cuenca del Mediterráneo y gran parte del noroeste de Europa. La población de su imperio, de entre 50 y 60 millones de personas, constituía quizás una quinta parte o una sexta parte de la población mundial de entonces. La conquista victoriosa se había comprado a un precio enorme, medido en sufrimiento humano, carnicería y dinero. Los costos fueron sufragados por decenas de miles de pueblos conquistados, que pagaron impuestos al estado romano, por esclavos capturados en la guerra y transportados a Italia, y por soldados romanos que sirvieron durante largos años luchando en el extranjero.

La disciplina del ejército romano fue notoria. La diezma es un índice de su gravedad. Si una unidad del ejército era considerada desobediente o cobarde en la batalla, un soldado de cada diez era seleccionado por sorteo y golpeado hasta la muerte por sus antiguos camaradas. Cabe destacar que la aniquilación no fue solo un mito contado para aterrorizar a los nuevos reclutas, sino que en realidad sucedió en el período de expansión imperial, y con la frecuencia suficiente para no suscitar comentarios en particular. Los soldados romanos se mataron unos a otros por su bien común.

Cuando los romanos se mostraban tan despiadados entre sí, ¿qué misericordia podían esperar los prisioneros de guerra? No es de extrañar entonces que a veces se vieran obligados a luchar en contiendas de gladiadores, o fueran arrojados a las bestias salvajes para entretenimiento popular. Las ejecuciones públicas ayudaron a inculcar valor y miedo en los hombres, mujeres y niños que se quedaron en casa. Los niños aprendieron la lección de lo que les sucedió a los soldados que fueron derrotados. Las ejecuciones públicas eran rituales que ayudaban a mantener una atmósfera de violencia, incluso en tiempos de paz. El derramamiento de sangre y la matanza se unieron a la gloria militar y la conquista como elementos centrales de la cultura romana.

Con la ascensión del primer emperador Augusto (31 a. C. - 14 d. C.), el estado romano se embarcó en un período de paz a largo plazo (Pax Romana). Durante más de dos siglos, gracias a su eficaz defensa por parte de los ejércitos fronterizos, el núcleo interno del imperio romano estuvo prácticamente aislado de la experiencia directa de la guerra. Luego, en memoria de sus tradiciones guerreras, los romanos establecieron campos de batalla artificiales en ciudades y pueblos para la diversión del público. La costumbre se extendió desde Italia a las provincias.

Hoy en día, admiramos el Coliseo de Roma y otros grandes anfiteatros romanos como los de Verona, Arles, Nimes y El Djem como monumentos arquitectónicos. Elegimos olvidar, sospecho, que aquí era donde los romanos organizaban regularmente luchas a muerte entre cientos de gladiadores, la ejecución masiva de criminales desarmados y la matanza indiscriminada de animales domésticos y salvajes.

El enorme tamaño de los anfiteatros indica la popularidad de estas exposiciones. El Coliseo se dedicó en el año 80 d.C. con 100 días de juegos. Un día, 3.000 hombres lucharon en otros 9.000 animales fueron asesinados. Tenía capacidad para 50.000 personas. Sigue siendo uno de los edificios más impresionantes de Roma, una magnífica proeza de ingeniería y diseño. En la antigüedad, los anfiteatros debieron dominar las ciudades, del mismo modo que las catedrales se alzaban sobre las ciudades medievales. Las matanzas públicas de hombres y animales eran un rito romano, con tintes de sacrificio religioso, legitimado por el mito de que los espectáculos de gladiadores inspiraban a la población "una gloria en las heridas y un desprecio por la muerte".

Los filósofos y los cristianos posteriores lo desaprobaron enérgicamente. Con poco efecto, los juegos de gladiadores persistieron al menos hasta principios del siglo V d.C., y las matanzas de bestias salvajes hasta el siglo VI. San Agustín en su Confesiones cuenta la historia de un cristiano que al principio fue forzado a regañadientes al anfiteatro por un grupo de amigos, mantuvo los ojos cerrados, pero cuando escuchó rugir a la multitud, los abrió y se convirtió al ver la sangre en un entusiasta devoto de los espectáculos de gladiadores. Incluso la crítica mordaz que se cita a continuación revela cierto entusiasmo por debajo de su indignación moral.

Séneca, senador y filósofo romano, cuenta una visita que hizo a la arena. Llegó a la mitad del día, durante la ejecución masiva de criminales, escenificada como entretenimiento en el intervalo entre el espectáculo de bestias salvajes de la mañana y el espectáculo de gladiadores de la tarde:

Todos los combates anteriores habían sido misericordiosos en comparación. Ahora se deja de lado la delicadeza, y tenemos un asesinato puro y puro. Los combatientes no tienen una cubierta protectora que cubra todo su cuerpo y están expuestos a los golpes. Ningún golpe cae en vano. Esto es lo que mucha gente prefiere a los concursos habituales, e incluso a los que se organizan a petición del público. Y es obvio por qué. No hay casco, ni escudo para repeler la hoja. ¿Por qué tener armadura? ¿Por qué preocuparse por la habilidad? Todo eso solo retrasa la muerte.

Por la mañana, los hombres son arrojados a leones y osos. Al mediodía se arrojan a los propios espectadores. Apenas un hombre mata, le gritan que mate a otro o que lo maten. El vencedor final se reserva para alguna otra matanza. Al final, todos los luchadores mueren. Y todo esto continúa mientras la arena está medio vacía.

Puede objetar que las víctimas cometieron un robo o fueron asesinos. ¿Y qué? Incluso si merecían sufrir, ¿cuál es tu compulsión por ver sus sufrimientos? 'Mátalo', gritan, 'golpéalo, quémalo'. ¿Por qué es demasiado tímido para luchar? ¿Por qué tiene tanto miedo de matar? ¿Por qué tan reacio a morir? Tienen que azotarlo para que acepte sus heridas.

Gran parte de nuestra evidencia sugiere que las competencias de gladiadores estaban, por origen, estrechamente relacionadas con los funerales. 'Érase una vez', escribió el crítico cristiano Tertuliano a finales del siglo II d.C., 'los hombres creían que las almas de los muertos eran propiciadas por sangre humana, por lo que en los funerales sacrificaban prisioneros de guerra o esclavos de mala calidad comprado para el propósito '. El primer espectáculo de gladiadores registrado tuvo lugar en el 264 a. C.: fue presentado por dos nobles en honor a su padre muerto, solo participaron tres parejas de gladiadores. Durante los dos siglos siguientes, la escala y la frecuencia de los espectáculos de gladiadores aumentaron constantemente. En el 65 a. C., por ejemplo, Julio César ofreció elaborados juegos funerarios para su padre en los que participaron 640 gladiadores y condenó a criminales que se vieron obligados a luchar con bestias salvajes. En sus siguientes juegos en el 46 a.C., en memoria de su hija muerta y, digamos, en celebración de sus recientes triunfos en la Galia y Egipto, César presentó no solo las luchas habituales entre gladiadores individuales, sino también las luchas entre destacamentos enteros de infantería y entre escuadrones de caballería, algunos montados en caballos, otros en elefantes. Habían llegado espectáculos de gladiadores a gran escala. Algunos de los concursantes eran gladiadores profesionales, otros prisioneros de guerra y otros criminales condenados a muerte.

Hasta ese momento, los espectáculos de gladiadores siempre habían sido organizados por aristócratas individuales a su propia iniciativa y expensas, en honor a los parientes fallecidos. El componente religioso en las ceremonias de gladiadores siguió siendo importante. Por ejemplo, los asistentes en la arena estaban disfrazados de dioses. Los esclavos que probaban si los gladiadores caídos estaban realmente muertos o simplemente fingían, aplicando un hierro cauterizante al rojo vivo, iban vestidos como el dios Mercurio. Los que se llevaron los cadáveres se vistieron como Plutón, el dios del inframundo. Durante las persecuciones de los cristianos, las víctimas a veces eran conducidas por la arena en una procesión vestidas como sacerdotes y sacerdotisas de cultos paganos, antes de ser desnudas y arrojadas a las fieras. El torbellino de sangre en los espectáculos de gladiadores y bestias salvajes, los chillidos y el olor de las víctimas humanas y de los animales sacrificados nos son completamente ajenos y casi inimaginables. Para algunos romanos deben haber sido una reminiscencia de los campos de batalla y, más inmediatamente para todos, asociados con el sacrificio religioso. De una vez, los romanos, incluso en el apogeo de su civilización, realizaron sacrificios humanos, supuestamente en conmemoración de sus muertos.

A fines del siglo pasado a. C., los elementos religiosos y conmemorativos en los espectáculos de gladiadores fueron eclipsados ​​por lo político y lo espectacular. Los espectáculos de gladiadores eran representaciones públicas que se realizaban en su mayoría, antes de la construcción del anfiteatro, en el centro ritual y social de la ciudad, el Foro. La participación del público, atraído por el esplendor del espectáculo y por la distribución de carnes, y por las apuestas, magnificó el respeto a los muertos y el honor de toda la familia. Los funerales aristocráticos en la República (antes del 31 a. C.) eran actos políticos. Y los juegos funerarios tenían implicaciones políticas, debido a su popularidad entre los ciudadanos electores. De hecho, el crecimiento en el esplendor de los espectáculos de gladiadores se vio impulsado en gran medida por la competencia entre aristócratas ambiciosos, que deseaban complacer, entusiasmar y aumentar el número de sus seguidores.

En el 42 a. C., por primera vez, las luchas de gladiadores sustituyeron a las carreras de carros en los juegos oficiales. Después de eso, en la ciudad de Roma, los oficiales del estado ofrecían espectáculos de gladiadores regulares, como espectáculos teatrales y carreras de carros, como parte de sus carreras oficiales, como una obligación oficial y como un impuesto sobre el estatus. El emperador Augusto, como parte de una política general de limitar las oportunidades de los aristócratas para ganarse el favor de la población romana, restringió severamente el número de espectáculos de gladiadores regulares a dos cada año. También restringió su esplendor y tamaño. A cada funcionario se le prohibió gastar más en ellos que en sus colegas, y se fijó un límite superior en 120 gladiadores por espectáculo.

Estas regulaciones fueron eludidas gradualmente. La presión por la evasión fue simplemente que, incluso bajo los emperadores, los aristócratas todavía competían entre sí, en prestigio y éxito político. El esplendor de la exhibición pública de un senador podría hacer o deshacer su reputación social y política. Un aristócrata, Symmachus, escribió a un amigo: "Ahora debo superar la reputación ganada por los míos. Muestra la generosidad reciente de nuestra familia durante mi consulado y los juegos oficiales dados para mi hijo no nos permiten presentar nada mediocre". Así que se dispuso a conseguir la ayuda de varios amigos poderosos de las provincias. Al final, logró conseguir antílopes, gacelas, leopardos, leones, osos, cachorros de oso e incluso algunos cocodrilos, que apenas sobrevivieron hasta el comienzo de los juegos, porque durante los cincuenta días anteriores se habían negado a comer. Además, veintinueve prisioneros de guerra sajones se estrangularon entre sí en sus celdas la noche anterior a su última aparición programada. Symmachus estaba desconsolado. Como todos los donantes de los juegos, sabía que su posición política estaba en juego. Cada presentación fue en la frase sorprendentemente apropiada de Goffman "un baño de sangre de estatus".

Los mismos emperadores ofrecieron los espectáculos de gladiadores más espectaculares en Roma. Por ejemplo, el emperador Trajano, para celebrar su conquista de Dacia (aproximadamente la Rumania moderna), dio juegos en el año 108-9 d. C. que duraron 123 días en los que pelearon 9.138 gladiadores y mataron once mil animales. El emperador Claudio en el año 52 d. C. presidió con todas sus insignias militares una batalla en un lago cerca de Roma entre dos escuadrones navales, tripulados para la ocasión por 19.000 combatientes forzados. La guardia de palacio, apostada detrás de fuertes barricadas, que también impedían la fuga de los combatientes, bombardeó los barcos con misiles de catapultas. Después de un comienzo vacilante, porque los hombres se negaron a pelear, la batalla según Tácito se libró con espíritu de hombres libres, aunque entre criminales. Después de mucho derramamiento de sangre, los que sobrevivieron se salvaron del exterminio ».

La calidad de la justicia romana a menudo se vio atenuada por la necesidad de satisfacer la demanda de los condenados. Los cristianos, quemados hasta morir como chivos expiatorios después del gran incendio de Roma en el 64 d. ​​C., no fueron los únicos sacrificados para el entretenimiento público. Los esclavos y los transeúntes, incluso los propios espectadores, corrían el riesgo de convertirse en víctimas de los truculentos caprichos de los emperadores. El emperador Claudio, por ejemplo, descontento con el funcionamiento de la maquinaria escénica, ordenó a los mecánicos escénicos encargados de luchar en la arena. Un día, cuando hubo escasez de criminales condenados, el emperador Calígula ordenó que toda una sección de la multitud fuera apresada y arrojada a las fieras. Incidentes aislados, pero suficientes para intensificar la emoción de los asistentes. La legitimidad imperial se vio reforzada por el terror.

En cuanto a los animales, su gran variedad simboliza la extensión del poder romano y dejó huellas vívidas en el arte romano. En 169 a. C., sesenta y tres leones y leopardos africanos, cuarenta osos y varios elefantes fueron cazados en un solo espectáculo. Poco a poco se introdujeron nuevas especies a los espectadores romanos (tigres, cocodrilos, jirafas, linces, rinocerontes, avestruces, hipopótamos) y se sacrificaron para su placer. No es para los romanos la visión dócil de animales enjaulados en un zoológico. Se dispuso que las bestias salvajes despedazaran a los criminales como lección pública sobre el dolor y la muerte. En ocasiones, se preparaban elaborados decorados y escenarios teatrales en los que, como colofón, un criminal era devorado miembro a miembro. Castigos tan espectaculares, bastante comunes en los estados preindustriales, ayudaron a reconstituir el poder soberano. El criminal desviado fue castigado y se restableció el orden.

El trabajo y la organización necesarios para capturar tantos animales y entregarlos vivos a Roma deben haber sido enormes. Incluso si los animales salvajes eran más abundantes entonces que ahora, los espectáculos individuales con cien, cuatrocientos o seiscientos leones, además de otros animales, parecen asombrosos. Por el contrario, después de la época romana, no se vio ningún hipopótamo en Europa hasta que uno fue llevado a Londres en un barco de vapor en 1850. Se necesitó todo un regimiento de soldados egipcios para capturarlo, y requirió un viaje de cinco meses para traerlo desde el Nilo Blanco a El Cairo. Y, sin embargo, el emperador Cómodo, un tiro muerto con lanza y arco, mató él mismo a cinco hipopótamos, dos elefantes, un rinoceronte y una jirafa, en un espectáculo que duró dos días. En otra ocasión, mató a 100 leones y osos en un solo espectáculo matutino, desde pasarelas seguras especialmente construidas a lo largo de la arena. Era, comentó un contemporáneo, "una mejor demostración de precisión que de coraje". La matanza de animales exóticos en presencia del emperador, y excepcionalmente por el propio emperador o por los guardias de su palacio, fue una espectacular dramatización del formidable poder del emperador: inmediato, sangriento y simbólico.

Los espectáculos de gladiadores también proporcionaron un escenario para la participación popular en la política. Cicerón reconoció esto explícitamente hacia el final de la República: "el juicio y los deseos del pueblo romano sobre los asuntos públicos pueden expresarse con mayor claridad en tres lugares: asambleas públicas, elecciones y en obras de teatro o espectáculos de gladiadores". Desafió a un oponente político: 'Entrégate al pueblo. Confíe en los Juegos. ¿Te aterroriza que no te aplaudan? Sus comentarios subrayan el hecho de que la multitud tenía la opción importante de dar o retener el aplauso, silbar o callar.

Bajo los emperadores, a medida que disminuyeron los derechos de los ciudadanos a participar en la política, los juegos y espectáculos de gladiadores brindaron oportunidades repetidas para la confrontación dramática de gobernantes y gobernados. Roma fue única entre los grandes imperios históricos al permitir, de hecho, al esperar, estas reuniones regulares entre los emperadores y la gran población de la capital, reunida en una sola multitud. Sin duda, los emperadores podían en su mayoría gestionar su propia apariencia y recepción. Dieron espectáculos extravagantes. Lanzaron regalos a la multitud: pequeñas bolas de madera marcadas (llamadas missilia ) que podría canjearse por varios lujos. De vez en cuando plantaban sus propias claques entre la multitud.

En su mayoría, los emperadores recibieron ovaciones de pie y aclamaciones rituales. Los Juegos de Roma proporcionaron un escenario para que el emperador mostrara su majestad: lujosa ostentación en procesión, accesibilidad a los humildes peticionarios, generosidad hacia la multitud, participación humana en los propios concursos, amabilidad o arrogancia hacia los aristócratas reunidos, clemencia o crueldad hacia los vencido. Cuando un gladiador caía, la multitud gritaba pidiendo piedad o despacho. El emperador podía dejarse llevar por sus gritos o gestos, pero solo él, el árbitro final, decidía quién iba a vivir o morir. Cuando el emperador entraba en el anfiteatro, o decidía el destino de un gladiador caído por el movimiento de su pulgar, en ese momento contaba con 50.000 cortesanos. El sabia que estaba Emperador César , El más importante de los hombres.

Las cosas no siempre salieron como quería el emperador. A veces, la multitud se opuso, por ejemplo, al alto precio del trigo, o exigió la ejecución de un funcionario impopular o una reducción de impuestos. Calígula una vez reaccionó con enojo y envió soldados a la multitud con órdenes de ejecutar sumariamente a cualquiera que viera gritar. Comprensiblemente, la multitud se quedó en silencio, aunque hosca. Pero la creciente impopularidad del emperador animó a sus asesinos a actuar. Dio, senador e historiador, estuvo presente en otra manifestación popular en el Circo en 195 d.C. Se sorprendió de que la enorme multitud (el Circo tenía capacidad para 200.000 personas) se agolpaba a lo largo de la pista, gritaba por el fin de la guerra civil 'como un coro bien formado '.

Dio también relató cómo con sus propios ojos vio al emperador Cómodo cortar la cabeza de un avestruz como sacrificio en la arena y luego caminar hacia los senadores congregados a quienes odiaba, con el cuchillo de sacrificio en una mano y la cabeza cortada del pájaro. en el otro, indicando claramente, según pensó Dio, que eran los cuellos de los senadores lo que realmente quería. Años más tarde, Dio recordó cómo se había abstenido de reír (presumiblemente por ansiedad) masticando desesperadamente una hoja de laurel que arrancó de la guirnalda que tenía en la cabeza.

Considere cómo se sentaron los espectadores en el anfiteatro: el emperador en su palco dorado, rodeado por los senadores de su familia y los caballeros, cada uno tenía asientos especiales y venía vestido apropiadamente con sus distintivas togas con bordes morados. Los soldados fueron separados de los civiles. Incluso los ciudadanos corrientes tenían que llevar la pesada toga de lana blanca, la vestimenta formal de un ciudadano romano y sandalias, si querían sentarse en los dos niveles principales de asientos inferiores. Los hombres casados ​​se sentaron separados de los solteros, los niños se sentaron en un bloque separado, con sus maestros en el siguiente bloque. Las mujeres, y los hombres más pobres vestidos con la ropa gris monótona asociada con el luto, solo podían sentarse o pararse en el nivel superior del anfiteatro. Los sacerdotes y las vírgenes vestales (hombres honorarios) tenían asientos reservados en el frente. La vestimenta correcta y la segregación de filas subrayaron los elementos rituales formales en la ocasión, al igual que los asientos empinados reflejaban la fuerte estratificación de la sociedad romana. Importaba dónde te sentabas y dónde te veían sentado.

Los espectáculos de gladiadores eran teatro político. La actuación dramática tuvo lugar, no solo en la arena, sino entre diferentes secciones de la audiencia. Su interacción debe incluirse en cualquier relato completo de la constitución romana. El anfiteatro era el parlamento de la multitud romana. Los juegos generalmente se omiten de las historias políticas, simplemente porque en nuestra propia sociedad, los deportes para espectadores masivos cuentan como ocio. Pero los propios romanos se dieron cuenta de que el control metropolitano implicaba "pan y circo". "El pueblo romano", escribió Fronto, el tutor de Marco Aurelio, "se mantiene unido por dos fuerzas: las donaciones de trigo y los espectáculos públicos".

El interés entusiasta por los espectáculos de gladiadores se convertía ocasionalmente en un deseo de actuar en la arena. Dos emperadores no se contentaron con ser espectadores en jefe. También querían ser artistas premiados. Las ambiciones histriónicas de Nero y su éxito como músico y actor fueron notorios. También se enorgullecía de sus habilidades como auriga. Cómodo actuó como gladiador en el anfiteatro, aunque es cierto que solo en combates preliminares con armas desafiladas. Ganó todas sus luchas y cobró al tesoro imperial un millón de sestercios por cada aparición (suficiente para alimentar a mil familias durante un año). Finalmente, fue asesinado cuando planeaba asumir el cargo de cónsul (en 193 d. C.), vestido de gladiador.

Las hazañas de gladiadores de Commodus fueron una expresión idiosincrásica de una cultura obsesionada con la lucha, el derramamiento de sangre, la ostentación y la competencia. Pero al menos otros siete emperadores practicaron como gladiadores y lucharon en concursos de gladiadores. Y también lo hicieron los senadores y caballeros romanos. Se intentó detenerlos por ley, pero se eludieron las leyes.

Los escritores romanos intentaron explicar el comportamiento indignante de estos senadores y caballeros llamándolos moralmente degenerados, forzados a la arena por emperadores malvados o por su propio despilfarro. Esta explicación es claramente inadecuada, aunque es difícil encontrar una que sea mucho mejor. A significant part of the Roman aristocracy, even under the emperors, was still dedicated to military prowess: all generals were senators all senior officers were senators or knights. Combat in the arena gave aristocrats a chance to display their fighting skill and courage. In spite of the opprobrium and at the risk of death, it was their last chance to play soldiers in front of a large audience.

Gladiators were glamour figures, culture heroes. The probable life-span of each gladiator was short. Each successive victory brought further risk of defeat and death. But for the moment, we are more concerned with image than with reality. Modern pop-stars and athletes have only a short exposure to full-glare publicity. Most of them fade rapidly from being household names into obscurity, fossilised in the memory of each generation of adolescent enthusiasts. The transience of the fame of each does not diminish their collective importance.

So too with Roman gladiators. Their portraits were often painted. Whole walls in public porticos were sometimes covered with life-size portraits of all the gladiators in a particular show. The actual events were magnified beforehand by expectation and afterwards by memory. Street advertisements stimulated excitement and anticipation. Hundreds of Roman artefacts – sculptures, figurines, lamps, glasses – picture gladiatorial fights and wild-beast shows. In conversation and in daily life, chariot-races and gladiatorial fights were all the rage. 'When you enter the lecture halls', wrote Tacitus, 'what else do you hear the young men talking about?' Even a baby's nursing bottle, made of clay and found at Pompeii, was stamped with the figure of a gladiator. It symbolised the hope that the baby would imbibe a gladiator's strength and courage.

The victorious gladiator, or at least his image, was sexually attractive. Graffiti from the plastered walls of Pompeii carry the message:

Celadus [a stage name, meaning Crowd's Roar], thrice victor and thrice crowned, the young girls' heart-throb, and Crescens the Netter of young girls by night.

The ephemera of AD 79 have been preserved by volcanic ash. Even the defeated gladiator had something sexually portentous about him. It was customary, so it is reported, for a new Roman bride to have her hair parted with a spear, at best one which had been dipped in the body of a defeated and killed gladiator.

The Latin word for sword – gladius – was vulgarly used to mean penis. Several artefacts also suggest this association. A small bronze figurine from Pompeii depicts a cruel-looking gladiator fighting off with his sword a dog-like wild-beast which grows out of his erect and elongated penis. Five bells hang down from various parts of his body and a hook is attached to the gladiator's head"so that the whole ensemble could hang as a bell in a doorway. Interpretation must be speculative. But this evidence suggests that there was a close link, in some Roman minds, between gladiatorial fighting and sexuality. And it seems as though gladiatoral bravery for some Roman men represented an attractive yet dangerous, almost threatening, macho masculinity.

Gladiators attracted women, even though most of them were slaves. Even if they were free or noble by origin, they were in some sense contaminated by their close contact with death. Like suicides, gladiators were in some places excluded from normal burial grounds. Perhaps their dangerous ambiguity was part of their sexual attraction. They were, according to the Christian Tertullian, both loved and despised: 'men give them their souls, women their bodies too'. Gladiators were 'both glorified and degraded'.

In a vicious satire, the poet Juvenal ridiculed a senator's wife, Eppia, who had eloped to Egypt with her favourite swordsman:

What was the youthful charm that so fired Eppia? What hooked her? What did she see in him to make her put up with being called 'The Gladiator's Moll'? Her poppet, her Sergius, was no chicken, with a dud arm that prompted hope of early retirement. Besides, his face looked a proper mess, helmet scarred, a great wart on his nose, an unpleasant discharge always trickling from one eye, But he was a Gladiator. That word makes the whole breed seem handsome, and made her prefer him to her children and country, her sister and husband. Steel is what they fall in love with.

Satire certainly, and exaggerated, but pointless unless it was also based to some extent in reality. Modern excavators, working in the armoury of the gladiatorial barracks in Pompeii found eighteen skeletons in two rooms, presumably of gladiators caught there in an ash storm they included only one woman, who was wearing rich gold jewellery, and a necklace set with emeralds. Occasionally, women's attachment to gladiatorial combat went further. They fought in the arena themselves. In the storeroom of the British Museum, for example, there is a small stone relief, depicting two female gladiators, one with breast bare, called Amazon and Achillia. Some of these female gladiators were free women of high status.

Behind the brave facade and the hope of glory, there lurked the fear of death. 'Those about to die salute you, Emperor'. Only one account survives of what it was like from the gladiator's point of view. It is from a rhetorical exercise. The story is told by a rich young man who had been captured by pirates and was then sold on as a slave to a gladiatorial trainer:

And so the day arrived. Already the populace had gathered for the spectacle of our punishment, and the bodies of those about to die had their own death-parade across the arena. The presenter of the shows, who hoped to gain favour with our blood, took his seat. Although no one knew my birth, my fortune, my family, one fact made some people pity me I seemed unfairly matched. I was destined to be a certain victim in the sand. All around I could hear the instruments of death: a sword being sharpened, iron plates being heated in a fire [to stop fighters retreating and to prove that they were not faking death], birch-rods and whips were prepared. One would have imagined that these were the pirates. The trumpets sounded their foreboding notes stretchers for the dead were brought on, a funeral parade before death. Everywhere I could see wounds, groans, blood, danger.

He went on to describe his thoughts, his memories in the moments when he faced death, before he was dramatically and conveniently rescued by a friend. That was fiction. In real life gladiators died.

Why did Romans popularise fights to the death between armed gladiators? Why did they encourage the public slaughter of unarmed criminals? What was it which transformed men who were timid and peaceable enough in private, as Tertullian put it, and made them shout gleefully for the merciless destruction of their fellow men? Part of the answer may lie in the simple development of a tradition, which fed on itself and its own success. Men liked blood and cried out for more. Part of the answer may also lie in the social psychology of the crowd, which relieved individuals of responsibility for their actions, and in the psychological mechanisms by which some spectators identified more easily with the victory of the aggressor than with the sufferings of the vanquished. Slavery and the steep stratification of society must also have contributed. Slaves were at the mercy of their owners. Those who were destroyed for public edification and entertainment were considered worthless, as non-persons or, like Christian martyrs, they were considered social outcasts, and tortured as one Christian martyr put it 'as if we no longer existed'. The brutalisation of the spectators fed on the dehumanisation of the victims.

Rome was a cruel society. Brutality was built into its culture in private life, as well as in public shows. The tone was set by military discipline and by slavery. The state had no legal monopoly of capital punishment until the second century AD. Before then, a master could crucify his slaves publicly if he wished. Seneca recorded from his own observations the various ways in which crucifixions were carried out, in order to increase pain. At private dinner-parties, rich Romans regularly presented two or three pairs of gladiators: 'when they have finished dining and are filled with drink', wrote a critic in the time of Augustus, 'they call in the gladiators. As soon as one has his throat cut, the diners applaud with delight'. It is worth stressing that we are dealing here not with individual sadistic psycho-pathology, but with a deep cultural difference. Roman commitment to cruelty presents us with a cultural gap which it is difficult to cross.

Popular gladiatorial shows were a by-product of war, discipline and death. For centuries, Rome had been devoted to war and to the mass participation of citizens in battle. They won their huge empire by discipline and control. Public executions were a gruesome reminder to non-combatants, citizens, subjects and slaves, that vengeance would be exacted if they rebelled or betrayed their country. The arena provided a living enactment of the hell portrayed by Christian preachers. Public punishment ritually re-established the moral and political order. The power of the state was dramatically reconfirmed.

When long-term peace came to the heartlands of the empire, after 31 BC, militaristic traditions were preserved at Rome in the domesticated battlefield of the amphitheatre. War had been converted into a game, a drama repeatedly replayed, of cruelty, violence, blood and death. But order still needed to be preserved. The fear of death still had to be assuaged by ritual. In a city as large as Rome, with a population of close on a million by the end of the last century BC, without an adequate police force, disorder always threatened.

Gladiatorial shows and public executions reaffirmed the moral order, by the sacrifice of human victims – slaves, gladiators, condemned criminals or impious Christians. Enthusiastic participation, by spectators rich and poor, raised and then released collective tensions, in a society which traditionally idealised impassivity. Gladiatorial shows provided a psychic and political safety valve for the metropolitan population. Politically, emperors risked occasional conflict, but the populace could usually be diverted or fobbed off. The crowd lacked the coherence of a rebellious political ideology. By and large, it found its satisfaction in cheering its support of established order. At the psychological level, gladiatorial shows provided a stage for shared violence and tragedy. Each show reassured spectators that they had yet again survived disaster. Whatever happened in the arena, the spectators were on the winning side. 'They found comfort for death' wrote Tertullian with typical insight, 'in murder'.

Keith Hopkins is Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Brunel University and the author of Conquerors and Slaves (CUP, 1978).


Today, the idea of gladiators fighting to the death, and of an amphitheatre where this could take place watched by an enthusiastic audience, epitomises the depths to which the Roman Empire was capable of sinking. Yet, to the Romans themselves, the institution of the arena was one of the defining features of their civilisation.

Gladiators . were an expensive investment, not to be despatched lightly.

Hardly any contemporary voices questioned the morality of staging gladiatorial combat. And the gladiators' own epitaphs mention their profession without shame, apology, or resentment. So who were these gladiators, and what was their role in Roman society?

The Romans believed that the first gladiators were slaves who were made to fight to the death at the funeral of a distinguished aristocrat, Junius Brutus Pera, in 264 BC. This spectacle was arranged by the heirs of the deceased to honour his memory.

Gradually gladiatorial spectacle became separated from the funerary context, and was staged by the wealthy as a means of displaying their power and influence within the local community. Advertisements for gladiatorial displays have survived at Pompeii, painted by professional sign-writers on house-fronts, or on the walls of tombs clustered outside the city-gates. The number of gladiators to be displayed was a key attraction: the larger the figure, the more generous the sponsor was perceived to be, and the more glamorous the spectacle.

Most gladiators were slaves. They were subjected to a rigorous training, fed on a high-energy diet, and given expert medical attention. Hence they were an expensive investment, not to be despatched lightly.

For a gladiator who died in combat the trainer (lanista) might charge the sponsor of the fatal spectacle up to a hundred times the cost of a gladiator who survived. Hence it was very much more costly for sponsors to supply the bloodshed that audiences often demanded, although if they did allow a gladiator to be slain it was seen as an indication of their generosity.

Remarkably, some gladiators were not slaves but free-born volunteers. The chief incentive was probably the down-payment that a volunteer received upon taking the gladiatorial oath. This oath meant that the owner of his troupe had ultimate sanction over the gladiator's life, assimilating him to the status of a slave (ie a chattel).

Some maverick emperors with a perverted sense of humour made upper-class Romans (of both sexes) fight in the arena. But, as long as they did not receive a fee for their participation, such persons would be exempt from the stain of infamia, the legal disability that attached to the practitioners of disreputable professions such as those of gladiators, actors and prostitutes.


Bears

Bears appear a few times in the history of warfare, but one bear in particular became famous for his exploits against the Germans during World War II.

Voytek was a Syrian brown bear cub adopted by troops from a Polish supply company who purchased him while they were stationed in Iran. The bear grew up drinking condensed milk from a vodka bottle and drinking beer. When the Polish troops were moved around as the war progressed, Voytek went too: to battle zones in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt and then Italy.

Soon, Voytek had grown to weigh more than 880 pounds (400 kg) and stood more than 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall. In time, he was enlisted as a private soldier in the supply company, with his own paybook, rank and serial number, and eventually rose to the rank of corporal in the Polish Army. In 1944, Voytek was sent with his unit to Monte Casino in Italy, during one of bloodiest series of battles of World War II, where he helped carry crates of ammunition.

In his later years, Voytek lived at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, where he’d been stationed with his adopted supply company at the end of the war. He became a popular public figure in the United Kingdom, and often appeared on children’s television shows until his death in 1963.


How Did Roman Gladiators Train?

Roman gladiators were put through rigorous physical and psychological training that included instructions on how to behave, how to die and how to perform various war and combat tactics to stay alive during fights. Roman gladiators were thoroughly examined by physicians and trainers before being allowed to join training camps. Once accepted, gladiators learned how to use various tools such as shields and wooden swords, and how to ride horses to give themselves the greatest advantage during combat.

Gladiators were often trained in special training schools. Over 100 training facilities existed in ancient Rome, which looked and operated like prison systems. Gladiators were essentially prisoners, although they were deemed valuable because of their roles as soldiers, which allowed them to receive better treatment than other slaves. Gladiators came in many sizes, and had different sets of skills that made them valuable for different combat situations. Some proved to have exceptionally good equine handling skills and served as horseback-mounted soldiers. Other gladiators, particularly the largest and most athletic men, were trained to engage in hand-to-hand combat on the battlefield. Some gladiators were equipped with minimal amounts of equipment, which allowed them to run quickly and launch rapid attacks, while others were heavily armed.


What Animals Did Gladiators Fight?

The gladiators that fought animals, known as bestiarii, fought a variety of vicious mammals, including bears, lions, leopards, panthers and bulls. Contrary to popular belief, the bestiarii were distinct from gladiators. There were two types: those who were criminals or prisoners condemned to death by fighting animals, known as damnatio ad bestias, and those who volunteered to combat animals for pay or glory, known as venatio.

The animals fought by these bestiarii were mainly vicious predators. The most popular animal to fight was the lion, and there are many accounts of both prisoners and fighters being devoured. According to Roman orator Cicero, there was once a single lion that devoured more than 200 prisoners. More often than not, a single lion in combat with multiple men would emerge victorious.

Depending on the particular event, the animal could change. The most popular animals used for punishment were bears, leopards, Caspian tigers, black panthers and bulls. In some events, where the combatants were in it for sport rather than punishment, the animals could include crocodiles, hyenas, elephants, wild boars, buffalo, lynxes, giraffes, ostriches, deer, hares, antelopes and zebra. The latter animals were used to watch the hunt rather than to see an actual fight between men and beasts. Rather than purely being for sport, when prisoners were forced into combat with wild animals, it was often as a form of execution. Some prisoners were forced into the arenas naked and defenseless, and even if they defeated an animal, others would be sent in.


When did Gladiator Games begin in the Roman Republic?

The first gladiatorial games recorded in Rome took place in 264 BC when the sons of Decimus Junius Brutus organized an event for their recently deceased father. [4] After those games, there are no more records of gladiatorial events in Rome until 216 BC, probably because the Romans were too preoccupied with the increasingly tenuous geopolitical situation with Carthage, which eventually led to the Second Punic War (218-202 BC). Interestingly, the historian Livy wrote that the Carthaginian general Hannibal conducted his own blood sports-type when he invaded Rome in 218 BC. El escribio:

“He formed his troops into a circle and had some prisoners, whom he had captured in the mountains, brought into the middle of it in chains. Gallic weapons were laid on the ground in front of them, and an interpreter was told to ask if any of them would be willing to fight in single combat if he were released from his chains and offered a horse, together with the weapons, as the prize of victory.” [5]

It is unknown how much Hannibal’s “games” had on the Roman blood sports, but it cannot be discounted since the Roman blood sports were quite eclectic in their origins. By the late Republic, gladiatorial games were highly institutionalized – the gladiators were well-trained and valuable prisoners of war who fought in distinct styles. All gladiators were dressed as and fought in the style of one of Rome’s three early enemies: Samnite, Thracian, and Gaul. These three designations were introduced at an early point but were retained as long as gladiators fought in Rome. [6]


The life or death of a gladiator ?

The fight of the gladiators began with a loud trumpet sound. During the gladiator games Roman orchestra consisted of trumpets, horns and water organs or hydraulos. Different types of gladiators tried to use the advantages of their weapons and they trained to defeat their opponents – while the opponent of course tried the same. The winner of a fight, always left the arena alive. He may have succumbed to his injuries afterwards, but he rarely died in front of the audience.

The loser could give up: He can threw his weapon and shield, crouch on his knees and begged for mercy with outstretched forefinger. In a true Titan fight in which no winner could be determined, they ended the fight in a draw when both gladiators at the same time throw their weapons and gave up. los editor(sponsor and organizer of the games) had called for a fight with the finger, while the audience wanted to stop this fight and finally editor and audience could agreed to this compromise. In the arena sometimes several duels took place simultaneously and each coach was a referee at each fight. So the loser had a chance to recover even if he fainted from exhaustion. As it could be seen from the mosaic on the tomb from ancient city Pompeii, there was a referee intervenes when they hold the victorious gladiator from the deathblow. The loser’s life ultimately depended whether he was a good fighter. The final decision was made always by editor during a munus (commemorative duty). When the gladiator had given up, it was important for him to face death as stoically as possible, as the audience wanted to see the death of their intrepid heroes. The audience influenced the editor, with shouts and gestures, which finally decided on the further fate of the inferior.

When the fight ended with the death of a gladiator, an servant dressed as god Mercury (gr. Hermes Psychopomps = “the soul-accompanying Hermes”) entered into arena and tested if gladiator was still alive. If the gladiator was really death, then the underworld god Charon, a masked priest and the goddess of the funerals and burial Libitina, joined in the arena. They claimed the body of the dead gladiator with the stroke of a hammer on the forehead. This method was originated from the ancient Etruscan practice, who were sacrificed animals in honor of Libitina. Mercury dragged the body with a hook through the porta Libitinensis, a small gate in the arena wall. A hook was used to avoid contact with the dead body.

If loser survived the fight but sentenced to death by the editor, there was no mercy. In that case gladiator was killed outside the arena. However, if the audience was in a particularly bloodthirsty mood, they could demand from the editor to execute gladiator looser in front of their eyes. This must be a honorable death for gladiator: he kneels down, clung to his thigh, and bowed his head. The victor gladiator held the helmet or head of the defeated one with one hand, while he severed the cervical vertebrae with his sword on the another hand. Killing the wounded gladiator in the arena was the norm among convicted criminals.


Gladiators Training

The Roman gladiators received training at special schools known as Ludi. There were a large number of such schools established across the Roman Empire. Rome itself had four famous gladiator schools. The largest and the most popular among all was the Ludus Magnus that was linked to the infamous Roman Colosseum through an underground tunnel.

Another popular training center was located at Capua. This gladiatorial school became famous in 73 BC, when the Roman gladiator, Spartacus, sparked a slave rebellion in the area against the might of the Roman Empire.

In the Ludi, the gladiators received training like professional athletes and were taught to use different combat techniques and weapons, such as lasso, war chain, trident, net, and daggers, to defeat their opponent. They were allowed to fight with the equipments and weapons of their own choice and were required to fight 2-3 times a year. Gladiators also received three full meals and proper medical attention during the training period. However, condemned criminals who were sentenced to death for a capital crime received no such training at the ludus.

Gladiators were trained to play the role of Roman enemies during the games. They wore an armor that was different from the Roman military and used non-Roman weaponry for the combats. The various roles that they played included that of a Thracian, a Secutor, a Retiarius, and a Samnite. They were paid handsome sums of money every time they survived a gladiatorial combat. They were awarded their freedom if they managed to survive 3 to 5 years of deadly combats. The one was defeated in the arena begged for life or death, while the winner received awards, like a golden bowl, a golden crown, or a gold coin with a palm leaf, symbolizing victory.

Initially, only slaves and prisoners of war were made to become gladiators and fight in the arena using their traditional weapons and equipments. Slaves were bought by lanistas, owners of the gladiators, for the sole rationale of making them fight in the bloody gladiatorial combats. More..


Could You Stomach the Horrors of 'Halftime' in Ancient Rome?

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is a New York Times best-selling nonfiction writer and poet, and the author of "Dr. Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine" (Avery, 2014), which made seven national "Best Books of 2014" lists, including those from Amazon, The Onion's AV Club, NPR's Science Friday y The Guardian, among others. Aptowicz contributed this exclusive article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The enormous arena was empty, save for the seesaws and the dozens of condemned criminals who sat naked upon them, hands tied behind their backs. Unfamiliar with the recently invented contraptions known as petaurua, the men tested the seesaws uneasily. One criminal would push off the ground and suddenly find himself 15 feet in the air while his partner on the other side of the seesaw descended swiftly to the ground. Cómo strange.

In the stands, tens of thousands of Roman citizens waited with half-bored curiosity to see what would happen next and whether it would be interesting enough to keep them in their seats until the next part of the "big show" began.

With a flourish, trapdoors in the floor of the arena were opened, and lions, bears, wild boars and leopards rushed into the arena. The starved animals bounded toward the terrified criminals, who attempted to leap away from the beasts' snapping jaws. But as one helpless man flung himself upward and out of harm's way, his partner on the other side of the seesaw was sent crashing down into the seething mass of claws, teeth and fur.

The crowd of Romans began to laugh at the dark antics before them. Soon, they were clapping and yelling, placing bets on which criminal would die first, which one would last longest and which one would ultimately be chosen by the largest lion, who was still prowling the outskirts of the arena's pure white sand. [See Photos of the Combat Sports Played in Ancient Rome]

And with that, another "halftime show" of damnatio ad bestias succeeded in serving its purpose: to keep the jaded Roman population glued to their seats, to the delight of the event's scheming organizer.

Welcome to the show

The Roman Games were the Super Bowl Sundays of their time. They gave their ever-changing sponsors and organizers (known as editors) an enormously powerful platform to promote their views and philosophies to the widest spectrum of Romans. All of Rome came to the Games: rich and poor, men and women, children and the noble elite alike. They were all eager to witness the unique spectacles each new game promised its audience.

Al editors, the Games represented power, money and opportunity. Politicians and aspiring noblemen spent unthinkable sums on the Games they sponsored in the hopes of swaying public opinion in their favor, courting votes, and/or disposing of any person or warring faction they wanted out of the way.

The more extreme and fantastic the spectacles, the more popular the Games with the general public, and the more popular the Games, the more influence the editor could have. Because the Games could make or break the reputation of their organizers, editors planned every last detail meticulously.

Thanks to films like "Ben-Hur" and "Gladiator," the two most popular elements of the Roman Games are well known even to this day: the chariot races and the gladiator fights. Other elements of the Roman Games have also translated into modern times without much change: theatrical plays put on by costumed actors, concerts with trained musicians, and parades of much-cared-for exotic animals from the city's private zoos.

But much less discussed, and indeed largely forgotten, is the spectacle that kept the Roman audiences in their seats through the sweltering midafternoon heat: the blood-spattered halftime show known as damnatio ad bestias &mdash literally "condemnation by beasts" &mdash orchestrated by men known as the bestiarii.

Super Bowl 242 B.C: How the Games Became So Brutal

The cultural juggernaut known as the Roman Games began in 242 B.C., when two sons decided to celebrate their father's life by ordering slaves to battle each other to the death at his funeral. This new variation of ancient munera (a tribute to the dead) struck a chord within the developing republic. Soon, other members of the wealthy classes began to incorporate this type of slave fighting into their own munera. The practice evolved over time &mdash with new formats, rules, specialized weapons, etc. &mdash until the Roman Games as we now know them were born.

In 189 B.C., a consul named M. Fulvius Nobilior decided to do something different. In addition to the gladiator duels that had become common, he introduced an animal act that would see humans fight both lions and panthers to the death. Big-game hunting was not a part of Roman culture Romans only attacked large animals to protect themselves, their families or their crops. Nobilior realized that the spectacle of animals fighting humans would add a cheap and unique flourish to this fantastic new pastime. Nobilior aimed to make an impression, and he succeeded. [Photos: Gladiators of the Roman Empire]

With the birth of the first "animal program," an uneasy milestone was achieved in the evolution of the Roman Games: the point at which a human being faced a snarling pack of starved beasts, and every laughing spectator in the crowd chanted for the big cats to win, the point at which the republic's obligation to make a man's death a fair or honorable one began to be outweighed by the entertainment value of watching him die.

Twenty-two years later, in 167 B.C., Aemlilus Paullus would give Rome its first damnatio ad bestias when he rounded up army deserters and had them crushed, one by one, under the heavy feet of elephants. "The act was done publicly," historian Alison Futrell noted in her book "Blood in the Arena," "a harsh object lesson for those challenging Roman authority."

The "satisfaction and relief" Romans would feel watching someone considered lower than themselves be thrown to the beasts would become, as historian Garrett G. Fagan noted in his book "The Lure of the Arena," a "central … facet of the experience [of the Roman Games. … a feeling of shared empowerment and validation … " In those moments, Rome began the transition into the self-indulgent decadence that would come to define all that we associate with the great society's demise.

The Role of Julius Caesar

General Julius Caesar proved to be the first true maestro of the Games. He understood how these events could be manipulated to inspire fear, loyalty and patriotism, and began to stage the Games in new and ingenious ways. For example, Caesar was the first to arrange fights between recently captured armies, gaining firsthand knowledge of the fighting techniques used by these conquered people and providing him with powerful insights to aid future Roman conquests, all the while demonstrating the republic's own superiority to the roaring crowd of Romans. After all, what other city was powerful enough to command foreign armies to fight each other to the death, solely for their viewing pleasure?

Caesar used exotic animals from newly conquered territories to educate Romans about the empire's expansion. In one of his games, "Animals for Show and Pleasure in Ancient Rome" author George Jennison notes that Caesar orchestrated "a hunt of four hundred lions, fights between elephants and infantry … [and] bull fighting by mounted Thessalians." Later, the first-ever giraffes seen in Rome arrived &mdash a gift to Caesar himself from a love-struck Cleopatra.

To execute his very specific visions, Caesar relied heavily on the bestiarii &mdash men who were paid to house, manage, breed, train and sometimes fight the bizarre menagerie of animals collected for the Games.

Managing and training this ever-changing influx of beasts was not an easy task for the bestiarii. Wild animals are born with a natural hesitancy, and without training, they would usually cower and hide when forced into the arena's center. For example, it is not a natural instinct for a lion to attack and eat a human being, let alone to do so in front of a crowd of 100,000 screaming Roman men, women and children! And yet, in Rome's ever-more-violent culture, disappointing an editor would spell certain death for the low-ranking bestiarii.

To avoid being executed themselves, bestiarii met the challenge. They developed detailed training regimens to ensure their animals would act as requested, feeding arena-born animals a diet compromised solely of human flesh, breeding their best animals, and allowing their weaker and smaller stock to be killed in the arena. Bestiarii even went so far as to instruct condemned men and women on how to behave in the ring to guarantee a quick death for themselves &mdash and a better show. los bestiarii could leave nothing to chance.

As their reputations grew, bestiarii were given the power to independently devise new and even more audacious spectacles for the ludi meridiani (midday executions). And by the time the Roman Games had grown popular enough to fill 250,000-seat arenas, the work of the bestiarii had become a twisted art form.

As the Roman Empire grew, so did the ambition and arrogance of its leaders. And the more arrogant, egotistic and unhinged the leader in power, the more spectacular the Games would become. Who better than the bestiarii to aid these despots in taking their version of the Roman Games to new, ever-more grotesque heights?

Caligula Amplified the Cruelty

Animal spectacles became bigger, more elaborate, and more flamboyantly cruel. Damnatio ad bestias became the preferred method of executing criminals and enemies alike. So important where the bestiarii's contribution, that when butcher meat became prohibitively expensive, Emperor Caligula ordered that all of Rome's prisoners "be devoured" by the bestiarii's packs of starving animals. In his masterwork De Vita Caesarum, Roman historian Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (b. 69 A.D.) tells of how Caligula sentenced the men to death "without examining the charges" to see if death was a fitting punishment, but rather by "merely taking his place in the middle of a colonnade, he bade them be led away 'from baldhead to baldhead,'"(It should also be noted that Caligula used the funds originally earmarked for feeding the animals and the prisoners to construct temples he was building in his own honor!)

To meet this ever-growing pressure to keep the Roman crowds happy and engaged by bloodshed, bestiarii were forced to consistently invent new ways to kill. They devised elaborate contraptions and platforms to give prisoners the illusion they could save themselves &mdash only to have the structures collapse at the worst possible moments, dropping the condemned into a waiting pack of starved animals. Prisoners were tied to boxes, lashed to stakes, wheeled out on dollies and nailed to crosses, and then, prior to the animals' release, the action was paused so that bets could be made in the crowd about which of the helpless men would be devoured first.

Perhaps most popular &mdash as well as the most difficult to pull off &mdash were the re-creations of death scenes from famous myths and legends. A single bestiarius might spend months training an eagle in the art of removing a thrashing man's organs (a la the myth of Prometheus).

The halftime show of damnatio ad bestias became so notorious that it was common for prisoners to attempt suicide to avoid facing the horrors they knew awaited them. Roman philosopher and statesmen Seneca recorded a story of a German prisoner who, rather than be killed in a bestiarius' show, killed himself by forcing a communally used prison lavatory sponge down his throat. One prisoner who refused to walk into the arena was placed on a cart and wheeled in the prisoner thrust his own head between the spokes of its wheels, preferring to break his own neck than to face whatever horrors the bestiarius had planned for him.

It is in this era that Rome saw the rise of its most famous bestiarius, Carpophorus, "The King of the Beasts."

The Rise of a Beast Master

Carpophorus was celebrated not only for training the animals that were set upon the enemies, criminals and Christians of Rome, but also for famously taking to the center of the arena to battle the most fearsome creatures himself.

He triumphed in one match that pitted him against a bear, a lion and a leopard, all of which were released to attack him at once. Another time, he killed 20 separate animals in one battle, using only his bare hands as weapons. His power over animals was so unmatched that the poet Martial wrote odes to Carpophorus.

"If the ages of old, Caesar, in which a barbarous earth brought forth wild monsters, had produced Carpophorus," he wrote in his best known work, Epigrams. "Marathon would not have feared her bull, nor leafy Nemea her lion, nor Arcadians the boar of Maenalus. When he armed his hands, the Hydra would have met a single death one stroke of his would have sufficed for the entire Chimaera. He could yoke the fire-bearing bulls without the Colchian he could conquer both the beasts of Pasiphae. If the ancient tale of the sea monster were recalled, he would release Hesione and Andromeda single-handed. Let the glory of Hercules' achievement be numbered: it is more to have subdued twice ten wild beasts at one time."

To have his work compared so fawningly to battles with some of Rome&rsquos most notorious mythological beast sheds some light on the astounding work Carpophorus was doing within the arena, but he gained fame as well for his animal work behind the scenes. Perhaps most shockingly, it was said that he was among the few bestiarii who could command animals to rape human beings, including bulls, zebras, stallions, wild boars and giraffes, among others. This crowd-pleasing trick allowed his editors crear ludi meridiani that could not only combine sex and death but also claim to be honoring the god Jupiter. After all, in Roman mythology, Jupiter took many animal forms to have his way with human women.

Historians still debate how common of an occurrence public bestiality was at the Roman Games &mdash and especially whether forced bestiality was used as a form of execution &mdash but poets and artists of the time wrote and painted about the spectacle with a shocked awe.

"Believe that Pasiphae coupled with the Dictaean bull!" Martial wrote. "We've seen it! The Ancient Myth has been confirmed! Hoary antiquity, Caesar, should not marvel at itself: lo que Fama sings of, the arena presents to you."

The 'Gladiator' Commodus

The Roman Games and the work of the bestiarii may have reached their apex during the reign of Emperor Commodus, which began in 180 AD. By that time, the relationship between the emperors and the Senate had disintegrated to a point of near-complete dysfunction. The wealthy, powerful and spoiled emperors began acting out in such debauched and deluded ways that even the working class "plebs" of Rome were unnerved. But even in this heightened environment, Commodus served as an extreme.

Having little interest in running the empire, he left most of the day-to-day decisions to a prefect, while Commodus himself indulged in living a very public life of debauchery. His harem contained 300 girls and 300 boys (some of whom it was said had so bewitched the emperor as he passed them on the street that he felt compelled to order their kidnapping). But if there was one thing that commanded Commodus' obsession above all else, it was the Roman Games. He didn't just want to put on the greatest Games in the history of Rome he wanted to be the estrella of them, too.

Commodus began to fight as a gladiator. Sometimes, he arrived dressed in lion pelts, to evoke Roman hero Hercules other times, he entered the ring absolutely naked to fight his opponents. To ensure a victory, Commodus only fought amputees and wounded soldiers (all of whom were given only flimsy wooden weapons to defend themselves). In one dramatic case recorded in Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Commodus ordered that all people missing their feet be gathered from the Roman streets and be brought to the arena, where he commanded that they be tethered together in the rough shape of a human body. Commodus then entered the arena's center ring, and clubbed the entire group to death, before announcing proudly that he had killed a giant.

But being a gladiator wasn't enough for him. Commodus wanted to rule the halftime show as well, so he set about creating a spectacle that would feature him as a great bestiarius. He not only killed numerous animals &mdash including lions, elephants, ostriches and giraffes, among others, all of which had to be tethered or injured to ensure the emperor's success &mdash but also killed bestiarii whom he felt were rivals (including Julius Alexander, a bestiarius who had grown beloved in Rome for his ability to kill an untethered lion with a javelin from horseback). Commodus once made all of Rome sit and watch in the blazing midday sun as he killed 100 bears in a row &mdash and then made the city pay him 1 millions esterces (ancient Roman coins) for the (unsolicited) favor.

By the time Commodus demanded the city of Rome be renamed Colonia Commodiana ("City of Commodus") &mdash Scriptores Historiae Augustae, noted that not only did the Senate "pass this resolution, but … at the same time [gave] Commodus the name Hercules, and [called] him a god" &mdash a conspiracy was already afoot to kill the mad leader. A motley crew of assassins &mdash including his court chamberlain, Commodus' favorite concubine, and "an athlete called Narcissus, who was employed as Commodus' wrestling partner" &mdash joined forces to kill him and end his unhinged reign. His death was supposed to restore balance and rationality to Rome &mdash but it didn't. By then, Rome was broken &mdash bloody, chaotic and unable to stop its death spiral.

In an ultimate irony, reformers who stood up to oppose the culture's violent and debauched disorder were often punished by death at the hands of the bestiarii, their deaths cheered on by the very same Romans whom they were trying to protect and save from destruction.

The Death of the Games and the Rise of Christianity

As the Roman Empire declined, so did the size, scope and brutality of its Games. However, it seems fitting that one of the most powerful seeds of the empire's downfall could be found within its ultimate sign of contempt and power &mdash the halftime show of damnatio ad bestias.

Early Christians were among the most popular victims in ludi meridiani. The emperors who condemned these men, women and children to public death by beasts did so with the obvious hope that the spectacle would be so horrifying and humiliating that it would discourage any other Romans from converting to Christianity.

Little did they realize that the tales of brave Christians facing certain death with grace, power and humility made them some of the earliest martyr stories. Nor could they have imagined that these oft-repeated narratives would then serve as invaluable tools to drive more people toward the Christian faith for centuries to come.

In the end, who could have ever imagined that these near-forgotten "halftime shows" might prove to have a more lasting impact on the world than the gladiators and chariot races that had overshadowed the bestiarii for their entire existence?

Follow all of the Expert Voices issues and debates &mdash and become part of the discussion &mdash on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on Live Science.


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