Blood sport in Roman Penchant
Blood sport is a form of entertainment that involves violence against animals. These games include cock fighting, bull fighting and dog fighting among others. As the name of the sport suggests, an animal oozes blood and eventually dies. This act originated from the early methods hunting. The hunters never had firearms and used bows and arrows. After they shoot the animal, they use a dog to chase and kill it. This method was used even in baiting other animals like rats or mice. People bred animals specifically for blood sport. They raised them and forced them to fight. This continued until reformers advocated for animal welfare (Corrick, 5).
Blood sport in Rome was inspired by the political atmosphere. When there was political instability people fought, and blood was shed. This trend made them accustomed to violence and barbarism. They wanted a game, which will suite their way of life. They enjoyed seeing blood being shed, and it became a strong culture. Sport games were mostly done during the funeral of a powerful Roman. For example, if a Roman king died, there had to be a mock combat. Young men in the community would come together and form troupes then fight each other.
In the Roman Empire, blood sport was mostly done by gladiators. A gladiator was a man who fought using weapons with other men or animals. Initially, the Romans only did blood sport during the death of a powerful Roman. They decided to introduce in festivals. Almost all these gladiatorial fights resulted to death. In some cases, the life of the gladiator was spared was by the wish of audience. If the audience wanted him to die, it showed a thumbs-up signal. If they wanted to spare his life, they showed a thumbs-down signal. However, it was a rare case for a gladiator to be pardoned (Bosworth, 34).
Several gladiators lived well, and some even got to celebrity level. They were academies set aside to train gladiators in blood sport. Unfortunately, most of them got sudden deaths. It is a sad thought to think how they spent years of tough training in unfavorable conditions. These gladiators were warriors who were captured during Roman conquest. Only those who qualified were chosen to be gladiators. Every man who had a good physique and a spirit for fighting was eligible. Blood sport participants involved criminals too. Those who were sentenced to death were used to entertain the emperors and the rest of the people. The gladiators took advantage of such people to make a good name for themselves (Winkler, 76).
The Romans’ love for blood sport is associated with religious practice of redemption. It was also done to satisfy the thirst for blood. Blood sport in Rome was a form of offering a sacrifice to bind Roman citizens. The death of gladiators signified salvation to the Romans. These animals were offered as sacrifices instead of humans. However, human sacrifice was not a common practice. Munera Province was associated with death of prominent people. They valued human sacrifices for religious purposes. In fact, this was their main objective, and they did not recognize deaths of gladiators (Plass, 10).
Blood sports were done in amphitheaters, which were built by the Romans in many places. This structure was oval shaped with seats in all directions. The arena was at the center. The audience sat at a higher level than the arena because it gave a clear view. The arena was made of sand since it was expected blood will be shed. It easily absorbed blood and could be changed. The most popular amphitheater was called Flavium, which was named after a Roman Emperor. It was bigger than the rest and had more features than other theaters (Nosov, 90).
A few changes that took place in Roman blood sports. The weapons used were enhanced, and the gladiators were classified to various groups. For instance, the earliest gladiators were called Samnites. They came from People of Samnium who were Rome’s adversaries. The second group was called Thracian. Each group of gladiators was unique in appearance and weapons. Some of their armors were helmets, swords, shields and daggers among others. Blood sport was used to execute Christians in Rome. They would be taken to the amphitheater and die during blood sport.
The most popular activity in this sport was engagement between two gladiators. The two opponents had to show their skills by using tactics. The participants did their best since they were fighting for their lives and it made it exciting for the audience (Corrick, 56). The organizers continued to make it hard to survive. They took two men without body amour and two gladiators fully armed. Any man who survived this fight would have another fight. The organizers considered it a reward for him.
There are similarities between Roman blood sports and today’s recreation. Blood sports are still practiced today in many countries. However, blood sport involving humans is not practiced at all. In the Roman Empire, blood sports were encouraged by the availability of slaves. Today, there are no slaves so blood sports involving death of people are forbidden. The main participants of the games were animals. The most common animals used are bulls and cocks. Two people prepare any of these animals for fighting. They are taken to the arena to fight. In many circumstances, there is a reward for the owner of the animal, which will win (Bosworth, 60).
Blood sport has been used as entertainment since the Roman Empire period. Today, people use the animals and then they slaughter them after the fight. This is similar to how the Romans made people fight until they died. The fighting animals are seen to have no value to the people. Thus, they were used as a source of entertainment, and then killed. The Roman Emperors used slaves who were gladiators as entertainment sources. This is an indicated they saw them inferior, and this is why they were captured. The Roman Empire never respected the value of human life. The animal welfare association has been advocating banning of such sports (Plass, 113).
Most common current recreation involves sports just as it was in the Roman Empire. People enjoy rigorous activities, which will make their bodies exercise. This is similar to Roman blood sports. The audience enjoyed watching gladiators fighting since it was a rigorous activity. Recreation also involves watching plays or performances (Corrick, 152). The Romans use blood sports as recreation since they enjoyed watching the fights. Plays and other performances are done in theaters. The Romans also used an amphitheater to stage their blood sports.
The law has been strict with blood sports. They are limitations in many countries today. This is because of the laws protecting animals. The law considers they have rights to be protected from violence. Some communities, which practice blood sports, believe it is a culture and not just entertainment. For example, Aficionados consider bull fighting as a cultural activity. The Romans also considered it a religious activity when they spilt blood. Blood sport may be allowed to experts who would like to carry out research. For them to get a permit, they must prove it is a viable study (Winkler, 125).
Blood sports are losing popularity since they encourage violence. These sports may be a negative influence to the younger generation since thy will believe in too much violence even in recreation. This is evidence by how blood sport began in Rome. It was inspired by political violence. It is a clear indication that violence related activities will influence bad character in people. For the communities still practicing it, should use blood sports for entertain or any other positive purpose. Community leaders should not allow blood sports to cause disunity (Nosov, 99).
Bosworth, R J. B. Whispering City: Modern Rome and Its Histories. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. Print.
Corrick, James A. The Bloody, Rotten Roman Empire: The Disgusting Details About Life in Ancient Rome. Mankato, Minn: Capstone Press, 2011. Print.
Nosov, K. Gladiator: Rome’s Bloody Spectacle. Oxford: Osprey, 2009. Print.
Plass, Paul. The Game of Death in Ancient Rome: Arena Sport and Political Suicide. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995. Print.
Winkler, Martin M. Gladiator: Film and History. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2004. Print.