, over 9,000 animals were killed.

Not all the animals were ferocious, though most were. Animals that appeared in the venatio included lions, elephants, bears, deer, wild goats, dogs, and camels. Some of these animals were trained and, instead of fighting, performed tricks.

Revered for its ferocity, the lion was extremely popular in venationes and gladiatorial shows. While dictator, Caesar used a staggering 400 lions (imported primarily from North Africa and Syria) in the Circus, the foreignness of the animal lending his shows added panache. Savage images of the lion were not exclusive to the arena, however. Sculptures of lions devouring prey were often used on sepulchers as symbols of the voraciousness of death.

Following the venatio in the order of daily events were the humiliores, the execution of Roman citizens of lower status. Usual forms of execution included burning at the stake, crucifixion, or ad bestias (when the prisoner is left alone in the ring with one or more wild animals). Ancient writers suggest that during the humiliores, most respectable men and women went for lunch instead of staying to watch.

Roman emperors often sentenced serious criminals — who then became known as "bestiarii" — to fatal encounters with the beasts in the Colosseum — an ancient "death sentence". The criminal met his fate in the context of an elaborate play; instead of a happy ending, though, the main character of the production — the convict — was mauled by a bear, whom he fought without weapons or armor. These were the lowest class of participants in the games.

Such gory dramas were common at the program Emperor Titus arranged to dedicate the Colosseum in A.D. 80. That lavish show lasted 100 days. Throughout the festivities more than 10,000 prisoners and 9,000 animals were slaughtered.

Obtaining the animals from the far-flung corners of the empire was an ostentatious display of wealth and power by the emperor or other patron to the populace, and was also meant to demonstrate Roman power of the whole human and animal world and to show the plebs of Rome exotic animals they might never see otherwise.

ee also

*North African elephant

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • VENATIO — Polluci, l. 5. ἐπιτήδευμα ἡρωικὸν καὶ βασιλικὸν καὶ πρὸς εὐσωματίαν ἅμα καὶ εὐψυχίαν ἀοκεῖ, καί ἐςτιν εἰρηνικῆς τε καρτερίας ἅμα καὶ πολεμικῆς τόλμης μελέτημα πρὸς ἀνδρείαν φέρον: Xenophonti, Cyrop. l. 1. Α᾿ληθεςτάτη τῶ πρὸς τὸν πόλεμον μελέτη,… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Venatio — (lat.), das Jagen, die Jagd, der Tierkampf (s. Tierkämpfe); venatorisch, Jagd oder Jäger betreffend …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Venatio — Medallón de bronce con la figura de un hombre luchando contra un animal salvaje (venatio). Venatio, en la Antigua Roma, es el nombre que recibían los espectáculos que se celebraban en el circo o en el anfiteatro y en el que intervenían animales… …   Wikipedia Español

  • VENATIO Direptionis — apud Flav. Vopiscum in Probo, c. 19. Venationem in Circo amplissimam dedit, ita ut populus cuncta diriperet: quale spectaculi genus fuerit, idem mox hisce exponit: Arbores validae per milites radicitus vulsae connexis late longeque trabibus… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Venatio — Im Römischen Reich waren Tierhetzen (venationes) neben den Gladiatorenkämpfen die große Attraktion der Unterhaltungskultur. Von den ersten überlieferten Hetzen im Jahre 186 v. Chr. wurden vor allem in der Hauptstadt selbst, nämlich im Kolosseum… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • venatio — /vaneysh(iy)ow/ Hunting …   Black's law dictionary

  • venatio — Hunting …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • APRORUM Venatio — inprimis Principibus aestimata, ut in qua venatoriae artis palmam posuerunt: ut de fatali Diocletini Apro legimus, et multa in numismatis rei memoria. Imo nec satis ex aere nummos, marmore statuas talium facinorum principibus fecisse, sed ad… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • XIPHIANA Venatio — apri videl. ingentis, setis, rostrô, dente (quem non male ξίφος dicas) metuendi, qui, cum Cappadociam aliquandiu vastâsset, a Constantio Aug. fuperatus oecisusque est, exhibetur in huius Imperatoris Sapphiro eximia, quam Marquardus Freherus… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • ОХОТА —    • Venatĭo.          О. была любимой забавой древних народов и перешла в виде травли в римский цирк и амфитеатр. Для травли также выписывали редких диких зверей из Азии и Африки, напр., слонов, носорогов, львов, а также медведей, кабанов, быков …   Реальный словарь классических древностей

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