Classics 2300 Gladiators - Chapter 3.docx

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Western University
Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2300
Christopher Brandl

Gladiators: Violence and Spectacle inAncient Rome Chapter 3 Chapter 3 – Gladiator Games inAction Preliminaries -munus (whether large or small) required elaborate preparation -machinery and stage properties were part of the tradition of munera -it takes time for the editor to procure a worthy gladiator -procrastination by the editor could lead to a cancelled show Advertisement -advertisement of upcoming show involved having professional painters paint announcements called edicta munerum (‘announcements of gladiator shows’) on the walls of houses and public buildings -these announcements contain information: name of the editor, his credentials, reason for the show, contents of the show, town or city in which show will be given, date(s), and any special features that might make the munus more appealing to potential spectators -price of a seat never appears because almost all munera, whether in Rome or in the rest of the empire, were given as gifts to the citizens by prominent members of the community -information given by these edicta is presented in hierarchical form from more to less important -gladiatorial combat as the main feature of the munus is always mentioned first after the name of the editor, but no individual names of the gladiators are given unless their fame made them an extraordinary attraction -the beast hunt (venatio), a morning prelude to the afternoon gladiator show, is usually mentioned next -most munera were held in the spring, but awnings were not guaranteed by every editor, even at warmer times of the year -a less common added feature is the sparsio (scattering or sprinkling) which entails the distribution of gifts and/or the sprinkling of perfumed (with saffron) water on the crowd -the introductory parade (pompa) of gladiators led by the editor was not often included in the advertisement -sometimes the advertisements would mention substitutes (suppositicii) -a suppositicius might replace a gladiator who had fought badly and lose very quickly or perhaps had been incapacitate in some way before the match -a suppositicius might even be called upon to test the endurance and ability of a winning gladiator who had revealed extraordinary strength and skill in the previous match -the rudis was a wooden rod awarded by a munerarius to a gladiator, which symbolized his permanent release from service as a gladiator -the recipient of the rudus is called the rudiarius -this reward was generally proclaimed by an editor urged on by the crowd during the munus -the title of summarudis (‘retired gladiator first class’) was given only to the most distinguished of these rudiarii -they served as instructors in gladiatorial schools and/or referees of gladiator combats -to be awarded citizenship in a city not of one’s birth was one of the highest honours in the ancient world -removed from the infamia of a career as a gladiator, the summarudis became eligible for public honours -rudiarii also enjoyed significant prestige and there was a strong demand for their appearance in the arena as gladiators -Tiberius paid 100,000 sesterces each to rudiarii to fight in funeral munera for his father and grandfather -appearance fees for rudiarii could go as high as 240,000 sesterces Anticipation of the munus -in the Republic and imperial period, gladiator games were a relative rarity, even under emperors who were active givers of spectacles and that rarity was an important factor in the popularity of the games -Augustus gave control over the presentation of state-sponsored munera to the board of praetors -hstforbade them to give a munus more than twice a year -later in 1 century, organization of these regularly scheduled gladiator games was transferred to the board of quaestors and they gave one munus annually in December -but these regularly scheduled munera were suspended occasionally, depending on the whim of the emperor -all other munera were one-time events produced on special occasions by the emperor or sponsors favoured and approved by him -even imperially sponsored munera might be suspended for long periods if an emperor, like Tiberius, was not particularly fond of gladiatorial games or bloodless version substituted (as in the case of MarcusAurelius) -emotional involvement of the people with a munus began when the show was first advertised, ad grew to a fever pitch until the munus took place -many public executions were routine and not terribly interesting to the crowd, but their differing opinions about the execution would make this event even more interesting and exciting -e.g. slave is about to be executed because he slept with his master’s wife -two factions in the crowd would form: one would be the jealous husbands expressing satisfaction of his death and the second faction would consist of lovers who support the slave and accusing the master’s wife of being a slut -this makes the execution more exciting Cena libera -another component of preparation for the munus was the “free-dinner”, which was given by the editor and took place on the eve of the spectacle - cena = ‘free’ -dinner you do not have to pay for -liber = ‘limitless’, ‘free from restriction’ -as applied to cena, it probably meant that a dinner unlimited in quantity at which one can indulge one’s appetite to the fullest -invitees were participants in the next day’s munus: gladiators, beast fighters, and condemned criminals (damnati) who were put to death in the arena the next day -seems to be in the tradition of the condemned man’s last meal -menu consisted of costly foods with an invitation to indulge one’s appetite to the limit -one purpose of dinner was the expression by the editor of his gratitude to the participants in the show, whose suffering and death would bring him great public favour -cena libera was often held in a public place such as the town forum, with tables set out in the open air -meal would have taken place in the late afternoon -public was invited to observe the participants in this dinner and even talk to them -location and involvement of the public suggest another purpose of the cena: advertisement -if the public had any doubt about attending the munus, the cena might change their mind -evidence suggests that more went on at the cena libera than overindulgent eating -one instance: gladiators making their wills, showing consideration for those whom they would leave behind if they were killed in the arena The munus: events preceding gladiatorial combat Pompa -the pompa (‘procession’) was a regular feature of the munus -it got the munus off to a dignified start and offered excellent opportunity for the spectators to express with applause and shouts (acclamatio) their gratitude to the sponsor, who led off the procession -procession: -enter the arena: first two figures wearing togas at the head of the procession are lictors, usually attendants of magistrates with executive powers -lictors may been provided as honorary escort to all editores, even those who were not magistrate -behind them are trumpeters -then come two armourers working on gladiatorial armament carried on a platform by two slaves -the editor would check all gladiatorial armament, especially the swords and daggers to see if they were sharp enough to do real damage -the next figures are arena attendants (ministri), one carrying a tablet (used to transmit information to the spectators) and the other palm branch (symbolic award given to victorious gladiators) -the next figure is the editor himself -behind him would be 6 attendants carrying shields and helmets of the gladiators who will fight later -after attendants, there was a musician playing a short curved trumpet, and then procession ends with two attendants leading horses which will be ridden into combat by gladiators known as ‘horsemen’(equites), who traditionally appeared in the opening event of the munus -Lucian: there’s another kind of parade of gladiators, called a propompe (‘a procession in advance of the event’), which takes place 3 days before a munus presented in the city of Amastris -young men hired to fight in the munus, who march through the town’s forum beginning early in morning to advertise to munus Venatio -up until early empire, gladiatorial combat and venatio were for the most part stand-alone events -eventually the venatio joined with the gladiator show in the same day-long event -venatio had much in common with gladiatorial combat: both involved violent fights that could end in death for either opponent -lives of gladiators, beast fighters, and even their animal opponents could be spared by the munerarius because of courageous fighting -venatio: ‘hunt in the wild’ -if applied to a spectacle, it means ‘a staged hunt in the arena’ -as spectacle, venatio featured human hunters attempting to kill animals of all kinds and sizes, but especially large and dangerous predators such as lion, tigers, leopards, bears, and even elephants -there were two kinds of beast fighter: venator (‘hunter’) and a bestiarius (‘a beast man’; ‘one who fought wild animals’) -difference was mostly a matter of equipment and dress -venator: wears no armour and his weapons were the venabulus (‘thrusting spear’) and the lancea (‘light throwing spear’) -bestiarius: resembled a gladiator with helmet, shield, and sword -arena venator wore a tunic, like his real-life counterpart who pursued prey in the wild -speed was essential attribute of the hunter both in the arena and in the wild -Italian hunters hunted small prey and even larger prey like a boar -but they did not have experience of dealing with large and dangerous predators that were imported from NorthAfrica and other parts of the empire -native hunters were imported along with their prey -imported hunters with long familiarity with their prey probably served another purpose: the feeding and care of the animals before the show (not just hunting) -a class of professional hunters had begun to be developed in Italy -the bestiarii may originally have been gladiators transferred to the venatio, using the same armour and wielding a sword -bestiarii were considered inferior sword fighters -bestiarii and the venator could appear together in the same venatio -some scholars identify the bestiarius as an assistant to the venator who served as animal keepers and provoked the animals to fight in the arena (this is true in later imperial period) -but at least until 1 centuryAD, bestiarius had been a heavy-armed fighter of wild animals -the incorporation of venatio into the munus may have been a factor in demotion of bestiarius as heavy-armed beast fighter to a subordinate of the venator -in the imperial period, the word bestiarius seems to have referred primarily to someone condemned to be thrown to the beasts -term is appropriate to those who incurred this penalty because they were sometimes given weapons (but no defensive armour) to use against the bears or were expected to fight unarmed -this is to make the execution as entertaining as possible without interfering the desired result, which is the death of the noxius -Claudius: -bestiarii linked closely with meridian (‘the noon people’): bestiarii were victims thrown to the beasts during the venatio whereas the meridian were noxii who incurred other forms of execution at the noonday spectacle, which immediately followed the venatio -bestiarii seem more to be a helpless victim rather than professional beast fighters -venatio: refers primarily to battle between men and wild animals, but also includes a number of other events: animals fighting other animals, exhibition of exotic animals seen at Rome for the first time, executions of noxii by being thrown ‘to the beasts’, and presentation of performing animals -sometimes those condemned to face the beasts were bound to a stationary post in the ground or on the platform, or in a little cart, or just restrained from behind by an attendant -another way to force them to face the animals was to whip them from behind, a technique sometimes used on reluctant gladiators -large beasts fighting each other was a favourite attraction of the venetio -bulls and bears were often tied together and when one animal was victorious, the other (if not dead) was killed by a confector (‘finisher), whose job was to kill animals that had been seriously wounded but not killed by their opponent -wild animals in the arena often had to be provoked to fight each other or human opponents -one method of spurring these animals to action was to throw a stuffed dummy (pila) at them -another animal versus animal event of the venatio was the pursuit and killing of deer or boar by a pack of hunting dogs -the venation brought awareness to Romans of their far-flung empire from which the great beasts of the arena had come and gave them a sense of their domination of nature -Roman spectators were fascinated by the behaviour of wild animals, whether in the heat of battle or in performing tricks -givers of venationes were proud of the large numbers of animals slain at their own shows to entertain people -venatio of the late empire emphasized acrobatics -dangerous stunts performed by venatores in the arena – hunters deceiving and evading the animals in an acrobatic manner, thus rousing them to a fury -lethargic (lazy, tired) beasts made for a dull venatio -the cochlea was used in the arena when bulls fought men or other large animals -it’s a circular cage, open on one side, which delivered beasts into the arena -it rotated so that as it revolved it sent only one animal at a time into the arena -it could be used to tease animals while keeping arena hunters protected from attack -pole vaulting: man stuck pole in ground and throw his body into the air, which provokes animal underneath his jump -hedgehog device: wicker sphere large enough to hold a man -discourage an animal from tearing it apart and getting at the man -men in doorway either hold cloths or gesticulating with a hand to catch attention of the beasts and tease them The noonday spectacle (meridianum spectaculum) -the show began early in the morning and continued throughout the day with no intermission -a lunch break was instituted, during which spectators left the amphitheatre, a custom that rd continued at least until 3 centuryAD -some spectators were willing to stay in their seats for various reasons (losing their seats) -noonday spectacle: featured execution of convicted criminals (purchased by the editor from the authorities) -it was presented to fill void between the venatio and the afternoon gladiator show -before noonday executions were introduced, noon interval in the munus was used for light entertainment (‘play gladiators’: entertained the crowd by fighting with wooden weapons) -punishment of criminals: they were required to fight one another to the death -they were armed with swords, but without helmet and shield -other punishments included: hanging, the eculeus (a wooden horse on which the victim was mounted and then tortured by the application of pulleys and weights), a stake driven through the back of the head emerging through the mouth, victim burned to death, ‘iron seat’on which victims sat until their flesh roasted, and dismemberment by means of horse-drawn chariots sent in different directions -harsh public executions sent message to law-abiding citizens that the state was acting aggressively to protect them (as they did not have police force) -criminals to be executed dressed elegantly – attempt to mock convicts The afternoon combat Gods of the arena -Nemesis was the reigning divinity of the arena – she was popular among soldiers -soldiers and gladiators trusted their fate to her -Nemesis: queen of the universe Prolusio -before gladiator fight, there was a warm-up period (prolusion); they engaged in shadow fencing with wooden swords -music would be playing (horns and water organ) during prolusio -gladiators also ‘trash-talk’each other to arouse anger, as an emotional spur to courage The listing of events -pairings of gladiators were made ahead of time by editor in the days before the show -during Republic period: they would have been made in co
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