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wild beast combats as a natural sequence. The blood appetite could no longer be

appeased with the slaughter of tigers and lions. The man was a more noble

sacrifice. It appears that human combats were first introduced from Etruria and

Campania, but in Rome they were exhibited on a scale never equaled before or

afterwards. In the celebration given by Caesar a hundred and twenty pairs of

gladiators fought in the arena; but this was a mere foretaste of what was to

come. During the reign of Augustus ten thousand of these creatures are said to

have been killed for the sport of Rome. The reign of Augustus was therefore one

of peace! What then shall be said of the reign of Trajan, who in the brief space

of four months sent as many gladiators to their death as had perished during the

whole time of Augustus? For weeks together there was not a single day, or a

single hour of the day, when the combats were not renewed. In pairs or whole

companies the swordsmen were turned together, until only some extraordinary

incident of the fight could raise the enthusiasm of the human butchers who sat

lolling and talking indifferently in the amphitheater. Sometimes, for variety, an

exhibition would be given by night, and occasionally there were combats on the

water. During the reign of Claudius a sea-fight was exhibited on the Fudne Lake,

in which nine thousand victims were made to butcher each other for sport.

The gladiators of Rome were generally prisoners of war. Rome was glad to extract

amusement from creatures whom she no longer feared, and they were generally glad

to escape from the horrors of dungeons and quarries, and enter the dangerous but

free arena where they might win the applause of the whole Roman people, and

perhaps obtain their liberty. What remained for the stalwart Dacian or Gaul,

swept into Rome in the train of some great triumph, but to fight and kill, and

perhaps be free to kill again? These fierce creatures were kept at the public

expense, in barracks built for their accommodation, by order of the Emperor. Here

they had far more care bestowed on them than was given to the soldiers of the

legions. They were fed and trained by connoisseurs who knew bow to develop all

the capabilities of the human body and to extract from it its highest exertion.

When a skillful gladiator received a hurt in the arena, or when he sickened in

the barracks, he was at once put under the care of the best physicians, and

tender Rome nursed him back to health. How should she spare her adopted son in

whom she delighted?

In the fierce fatal combats of the arena the gladiators sometimes fought

scientifically, as they had been trained by their masters, and sometimes after

the manner of their own country. The rude Briton was turned into the circle in

his native war-chariot, and permitted to do his best. In general the fighting was

done on foot, and with swords. Frequently the combatants wore armor, but the

trained swordsmen of Rome preferred to triumph by strength and dexterity.

Sometimes the foreign gladiator appeared on the sand, armed with a trident, a

dagger, or even with a net, in which he was expected to entangle and then kill

his adversary. The like of this, however, was seen only in the ruder sort of

shows, and not in the fashionable butcheries over which the maidens and matrons

of the city were expected to clap their hands and shout, Habet. (1)

When the bloody sport was about to begin the gladiators who were to participate

were marshaled into the arena and passed in procession before the people. In

front of the seat of the Emperor they halted and cried out, Morituri te

salutamus, "We who are about to die salute you," and then with the blast of the

trumpet the combat began. No such desperate conflicts have ever elsewhere been

witnessed in the world. The gladiators were roused to the highest pitch of

ferocity; for the stake was life, the forfeit death. Each knew well that to

distinguish himself was not only to live, but to acquire fame. He knew that the

wild huzza of thousands was ready to answer the dexterous thrust of his sword,

and that inevitable death stood just beyond a failure. Such were the rage and

determination excited _______________________________ 1 When a gladiator was

wounded in the arena the cry was Habet, "He has it," and then the populace

indicated by holding up or turning down their thumbs whether he should or should

not be slain.