Those About To Die 11 – Bullfighting‌‌

THE ARENA HAD BEEN FLOODED during the night with salt water carried from the port of Ostia. (And how the Romans even with their unlimited manpower and wealth were able to accomplish this miracle I can't imagine.) The arena had been transformed into an enormous aquarium full of "sea monsters"—I suppose sharks and giant rays. Sicilian sponge divers with knives between their teeth dove from the podium wall into the artificial lake and fought the monsters. Afterwards, there was a nautical engagement between two fleets of galleys, one fleet sailing in by way of the Gate of Life and the…

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Those About To Die 10 – A Gladiators Right‌‌

AFTER CHECKING to make sure that his beasts were cleaned, fed and watered, Carpophorus went to Chilo's tavern near the Via Appia to discuss the day's events and drink himself into a blind stupor before the trials of the next day. Each of the different professions attached to the circus had a certain wineshop it frequented, and outsiders were not encouraged to intrude. Chile's catered to the bestiarii. The shop was several paces from the main highway, up a dark alley and near the "Wolf Den," as the Romans called the red-light district. When Carpophorus entered, he saw to his…

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Those About To Die 9 – The Weapons‌‌

BY NOW, it was growing late and time for the main presentation of the day. As the sun dropped below the edge of the stadium, it became noticeably cooler and the sailors were sent aloft on the great masts to furl the awning. As it was pulled back, the overheated air rushed upwards, making the sailors' task more difficult as the vast expanse of cloth flapped wildly up and down but sucking in fresh air through the colonnade of arches surrounding the building. There were audible sighs of relief as the crowd relaxed, the slaves removed the braziers of incense…

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Those About To Die 8 – Jewish Prisoners‌‌

IT WAS NOON NOW. The gladiators who had gone out after the crocodile hunt were Meridiani, second string men wlio fought during the middle of the day when most of the patricians had gone home for lunch and only the mob remained. In the stands, baskets of food were opened, flasks of wine produced, and the mob picnicked while the unfortunates below them fought to the death. During this slack period, the Master of the Games stopped long enough to speak to Carpophorus. "How are you holding up?" he asked, glancing at the mass of bloody bandages covering the venador's…

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Those About To Die 7 – The Gates Of Death‌‌

OUTSIDE IN THE ARENA, while the andabatae were slugging it out, slaves were busy rolling out a model of a mountain through the Gate of Death up to the inner barrier. On it were live trees, flowers, flowering shrubs, and even streams of running water, kept flowing by pumps worked by slaves in the interior. Set designers scurried over the mountain making last-minute changes and carpenters checked to be sure that everything was in working order. The Master of the Games was watching anxiously as the wretched andabates slashed each other with wild blows, seldom inflicting a mortal wound. The…

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Those About To Die 6 – How The Animals Were Killed‌‌

BORROWING HEAVILY from Martial, Seutonius and other Roman writers, let's picture a day at the Colosseum at the time of the Emperor Domitian during the heyday of the games when Carpophorus was top bestiarius. For weeks before the show, tickets have been distributed by wardheelers, thrown to the crowds by the editor giving the games, and sold by speculators. People not fortunate enough to get a ticket have started to line up before the various entrances to the great building days in advance hoping to find standing room. They have brought their food with them and are amused by tumblers,…

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Those About To Die 5 – The Animal Fighters‌‌

BY THE TIME the Colosseum was built, wild animal, shows were an important part of the games. Wild beasts had always appeared in the shows from the earliest days, either in the form of trained animal acts or for hunts in which deer, wild goats and antelopes were turned loose in the arena and killed by experienced hunters. Later dangerous animals such as lions, leopards, wild boars and tigers were introduced and gladiators sent out to kill them. Augustus had a bandit named Selurus dropped into a cage of wild beasts and this sight made such a hit that the…

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Those About To Die 4 – The Colosseum‌‌

THE FIRST CENTURY of the Christian era probably marked the high point of the games. The spectacles had grown to such an extent that it seemed incredible that they could ever be surpassed. The dictator Sulla (93 B.C.) had exhibited one hundred lions in the arena. Julius Caesar had four hundred. Pompey had six hundred lions, twenty elephants and 410 leopards which fought Gaetulians armed with darts. Augustus in 10 A.D. exhibited the first tiger ever to be seen in Rome and had 3,500 elephants. He boasted that he had ten thousand men killed in eight shows. After Trajan's victory…

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Those About To Die 3 – Sea Battles In The Colosseum‌‌

THE DEMAND OF THE CROWD, not only for bigger and better games but also for novelties, kept increasing and the government was hard put to it not only to provide elaborate enough spectacles but also to think up new displays.Possibly the most elaborate demonstrations of all were the naumachia or naval combats. Julius Caesar originated these displays in 46 B.C., digging a special lake in Mars' Field on the outskirts of Rome for the show. Sixteen galleys manned by four thousand rowers and two thousand fighting men fought to the finish.This spectacle was later surpassed by Augustus in 2 B.C.…

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Those About To Die 2 – The Galdiators

IN THE EARLY DAYS when the games were merely athletic contests there were no gladiatorial combats. Gladiators were introduced by accident. Two brothers named Marcus and Decimus Brutus wanted to give their dead father a really bang-up funeral. The brothers were wealthy patricians, the ruling class in Rome, and providing outstanding funeral rites for a dead parent was an important social obligation. The usual processions, sacrificed animals and prayers weren't enough for the brothers, but Marcus came up with an idea. "There was an old custom, dating back to prehistoric times, of having a few slaves fight to the death…

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