CLA233H1S: The Amphitheatre
Ludi: ‘Games’. Strictly speaking, in Latin this word only applies to the chariot
racing and theatrical performances put on in the context of the regular religious
festivals (i. e. NOT the gladiatorial contests). sacred contests offered tto gods
Munera: ‘duties’, and hence gifts given as a duty in honour of a deceased
relative, hence also ‘gladiatorial contests’, given as a gift on special occasions.
Romans were interested in the origins of the gladiatorial games.
They were new chariot racing.
The munera was an invention
Had to advertise them could paint graffiti on the wall
Decimus Junius Brutus [Pera] was the first to give a gladiatorial exhibition, in
honour of his dead father.
Livy, From the Foundation of the City, Book 16 (summary)
Other sources give the information that this took place in 264 B. C., just before the First
Punic (i. e. Carthaginian) War. Brutus gave the games in partnership with his brother
Marcus. There were three pairs of gladiators, who fought to the death. The scene was the
Forum Boarium (the Cattle Market), between the Palatine Hill and the River Tiber.
Advertising One’s Gift
Twenty pairs of gladiators belonging to Decimus Lucretius Satrus Valens, priest
of Nero Caesar, son of (Claudius) Augustus, for life, and ten pairs belonging to
his son Decimus Lucretius Valens will fight at Pompeii on the sixth, fifth, fourth,
third days before, and the day before, the Ides of April. There will be a regular
beasthunt and awnings.(will provide covering to keep you in the shade).
Written by Aemilius Celer, on his own, by moonlight.
1 From Pompeii. The days in question are April 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 10th. The year is
unknown, but must be in the reign of Nero ( AD 5468).
Father is a priest of nero.
Man draws attention to his social status. Shows off his generosity.
His father shares their gift with the public
Hope that you will like the competition and will remember it. When the
son will run for office you will remember the games.
The date/time/place will be advertised.
The very fact that ur telling ppl that there will be a beast hunt that the
man spent lots of extra money on these things.
In Pompeii the games were put on by magistrates
Munera and ludi are associated with the emperors duty to his ppl.
Giving the People Gifts is Good Policy
Because of his shrewd understanding of political science, the emperor [Trajan]
gave his attention even to actors and other performers on stage or on the race
track or in the arena, since he knew that the Roman people are held in control
principally by two things – free grain and shows – that political support depends
as much on the entertainments as on matters of serious import,(bread and
circuses), although he didn’t care about that, he knew the ppl liked it. that
neglect of serious problems does the greater harm, but neglect of the
entertainments brings damaging unpopularity, that gifts are less eagerly and
ardently longed for than shows, and, finally, that gifts placate only the common
people on the grain dole, singly and individually, but the shows placate
everyone. Make sure that the roads are fixed etc. but you will get the most
support by giving ppl gifts of games and bread. Gifts in the general sense are
only for the poor people but everyone loves a good show/game.
Fronto, Elements of History 18
The Emperor and the Games: Doing It Right
Citizens and allies alike had their needs supplied. Next came a public
entertainment – nothing lax or dissolute to weaken and destroy the manly spirit
2 of his subjects, but one to inspire them to face honourable wounds and look
scorn on death, by exhibiting love of glory and desire for victory even in the
persons of criminals and slaves. What generosity went to provide this spectacle!
and what impartiality the Emperor showed, unmoved as he was by personal
feelings or else superior to them. Requests were granted, unspoken wishes were
anticipated, and he did not hesitate to press us urgently to make fresh demands;
yet still there was something new to surpass our dreams. How freely too the
spectators could express their enthusiasm and show their preferences without
fear! No one risked the old charge of impiety if he disliked a particular gladiator;
no spectator found himself turned spectacle, dragged off by the hook to sastisfy
grim pleasures, or else cast to the flames! He (i. e. Trajan’s predecessor
Domitian) was a madman, blind to the true meaning of his position, who used
the arena for collecting charges of high treason, who felt himself slighted and
scorned if we failed to pay homage to his gladiators, taking any criticism of them
to himself and seeing insults to his own godhead and divinity; who deemed
himself the equal of the gods yet raised his gladiators to be his equal.
Trajan is a much better empror
He provided everybofy with food supplies
Put on games
Domitian was fond of greek style music. Trajan gave ppl manly
entertainment which is what ur supposed to give ppl. The power to
Trajan gives roman entertainment
Juluius ceasear was booed for finding the games boring
Emperor Trajan attended the games. Ppl have to support his faction.
Pliny the Younger, Panegyric to the Emperor Trajan 33. Tr. Betty Radice, Loeb
Classical Library (Cambridge, Mass. and London, England, 1969. Volume II, pp.
Pliny is contrasting the gladiatorial games given by Trajan with the ‘lax and dissolute’
public entertainments provided by the hated ‘tyrant’, the Emperor Domitian. It is not
entirely clear which public spectacles Pliny is condemning, but he probably means the
Greekstyle athletic competitions founded by Domitian, in which contestants competed
nude. Alternatively, he may mean competitions in music and dancing, of which
Domitian was particularly fond. His comments here on the value of the gladiatorial
3 competitions for Roman society in general are one of our clearest surviving statements of
the ideology of the amphitheatre. Note also how Pliny shows that Trajan is not a tyrant
because, unlike Domitian, he did not take it as a personal insult (and therefore an act of
political treason) if any member of the audience openly favoured a different competitor in
the games from the one he himself was supporting.
The Emperor and the Games: Doing It Wrong
He ceaselessly reviled the equestrian order as being in thrall to the stage or the
arena. Roused to anger by the crowd cheering on those who competed against
his favourites, he shouted out: ‘If only the Roman people had a single neck!’
And when the crowd called for the brigand Tetrinius, he termed them
Tetriniuses, too. Once five netfighters in tunics, fighting as a group, surrendered
to the same number of secutores without putting up any resistance. When the
order was given that they should be put to death, one of them picked up his
trident and killed all the victors refused to fight and were ordered to be executed.
This Caligula lamented in a proclamation as the cruelest slaughter, and
denounced those who had felt able to witness the spectacle. – he told the roman
The ways in which he was cruel and wanted to see blood
Ignorance of what romans thought was supposed to happen anticipation,
Suetonius, Life of Caligula 30. 3. Tr. Catharine Edwards. Oxford World’s Classics
(Oxford, 2000), p. 152.
He put some Thracian gladiators in charge of his German bodyguards (free born
allies, while he reduced the armour of the murmillones heavy armor. When a
certain Columbus won a victory but was slightly wounded, he gave orders that
the wound be rubbed with a kind of poison, which he thereafter termed
Columbinum. This was certainly how he recorded it amongst his other poisons.
He was so wildly keen on the Green Faction in the circus, that he used often to
take his dinner in the stable and stay overnight there. At one of his parties, he
gave the driver Eutyches two million sesterces in goinghome presents. As for his
4 horse Incitatus, to prevent whose disturbance he used to send his soldiers, the
day before the circus games, to demand silence in the surrounding area, apart
from the marble stable, the ebony manger, the purple blankets and the gem
studded collar, he also gave him a house and a household of slaves and
furniture, so that guests he invited in his name might be entertained in a more
refined manner. It is said, too, that he meant to make him consul.
Suetonius, Life of Caligula 55. Tr. Catharine Edwards. . Oxford World’s Classics
(Oxford, 2000), pp. 164165 .
All romans were expected to join in the entertainment.
Slaves to the stage
Caligusla was offended if you didn’t applaud for his team/
He liked the net fighters more.
Insulted the gladiator
Would eat his dinner at the stable
Circus drivers were usually slaves
His own horse was treated like a prince
Gladiators as the Obj