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Why did so few Romans object to arena spectacles?
Public entertainments and sporting activities were a very important aspect of Roman life. In fact, Juvenal went as far as to say that all the Roman public was interested in was ?panem et circenses', bread and circuses. Supporting this claim is the vast amount of wealth poured into the games, the lavishness of the buildings which were to house them and also the wealth of pottery and art dedicated to the peoples' favourite games, the gladiatorial games and beast shows.
However, although amongst the great legacy of Rome, these games were one of the greatest savageries; humans and animals pitted against one another in such an extravagantly public setting, merely for entertainment purposes, has to be deemed the nastiest blood sport ever invented.
The only modern (legal) equivalent sport where the purpose is to harm another human being is boxing; however, many precautions are taken to prevent competitors from serious injury and certainly death. If by any chance a competitor is seriously injured there would undoubtedly be huge legal implications and a huge worldwide public outcry. So why, then, did so few Romans object to the arena spectacles where men and exotic beasts were slaughtered daily in the most brutal of fashions in the name of entertainment?
On commencing my research I learned that my personal view is certainly a more modern one concerning the Roman arena spectacles. As I have discovered through my research, contemporary opposition to the games is surprisingly few and scattered. However, to condemn them as cruel and violent, and the Roman audiences simply blood thirsty, is to presuppose that Roman culture was identical to ours and that human life has always been valued so highly. In researching this topic I must keep in mind a warning as told by Keith Hopkins: ?We are dealing here, not with individual sadistic psychopathology, but with a deep cultural diffe
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