Thursday, 25 April 2013

Weekend entertainment - Roman style




Here's another run of the mill wall advertisement from Pompeii -

VEN.ET.GLAD.PAR.XX.M.TULLI.PUGN.POM.PR.NON.NOVEMBRES.VII.IDUS.NOV

"Wild beast hunters and the twenty pairs of Gladiators of Marcus Tullius will perform in Pompeii between the Nones of November (4th) and seven days before the Ides of November (7th)"

This hoarding is advertising four days of gladiatorial combat in Pompeii's arena being put on by some cove called Marcus Tullius - possibly a distant relative of Cicero. Notice how his twenty pairs of gladiators (they'd have a value of at least 160,000 sesterces - $4-million) will be 'performing' for those four days. Doesn't sound like Mr.M.Tullius was expecting any combat casualties, does it? In fact this advertisement gives a fairly good insight into the Roman arena industry. These gladiators are 'performing' - not fighting to the death. They will be appearing four days in a row, possibly putting on the same show like a visiting circus, or maybe mixing it up for the punters who've bought season tickets. The point is, Marcus Tullius was running a weekend matinee. He wanted to make money and he had no intentions of letting his $4-million investment go to the sword - those gladiators were going out there to ham it up to the crowd, and they were going to do the same thing the next day, and the day after that. So while it happened, don't get fooled into thinking that every gladiator went into the arena expecting to leave in a coffin. For more on the Arena industry - read 'A Body of Doubt' available from Amazon, just follow the links