Pompeii and Herculaneum: Leisure Activities
For each I've chosen one main source, and gathered a variety of other sources to help explain and reinforce it further. I find that one source (particularly buildings alone) are not enough to base all of the information on, and you gain a more comprehensive understanding by combining them. Entertainment was essential to daily life in Ancient Rome. According to Juvenal1, it seemed that all Romans were interested in was "bread and circuses," and with theatres, amphitheatres, gambling, drama and public baths galore, the Romans never seemed to get bored. Source 1: Pompeian Amphitheatre
* Built in 70BC, Pompeii's amphitheatre is the oldest and most complete pre-Colosseum style amphitheatre in the Roman world. * Located in the south eastern corner of the city. It survived the eruption of Vesuvius almost intact, it also offers fascinating insight into the design of amphitheatres and their importance to Roman society. * According to inscriptions, (found on the amphitheatre) Pompeii’s amphitheatre was built by C. Quintius Valgus and M Procius. * The floor of the amphitheatre was all sand, to soak up the blood spilt. * The amphitheatre was central to life in Pompeii. It was amongst the first buildings reconstructed after the earthquake in 62AD, despite the fact that no games had been held there for 3 years. In 59AD, deadly riots broke out between Pompeian spectators Nucerians. As a result, a ten year ban was placed on gladiatorial contests in the city. The ban was most probably revoked following the earthquake as a way of lifting the moral of Pompeii’s citizen’s. * The arena accommodated all social classes, demonstrating the universal popularity of the games. The 35 rows of seats which could accommodate 20000 people were divided into three areas to accommodate three distinct social groupings of spectators from the city and its outlying regions: - ima cavae - ran around the arena and was kept for the wealthy, originally had marble seating. - media cavae - was kept for the general populace.
- summa cavae - Slaves, women and lowest classes saw the games at a distance. Protection from the sun was provided by velaria suspended above the crowd from the top of the arena. Gladiatorial fights was something experienced by men, women, patriarchs, slaves and children. * The external walls of the amphitheatre were covered with posters praising the gladiators and recording the outcome of the contests. The Thracian2 Celadus is described as the ‘hero’ and ‘heartthrob of the girls’. The area around the amphitheatre had taverns and eateries to provide pre, during and post games refreshment. * The amphitheatre in Pompeii, as far as we know was only used as a gladiator fighting arena, as unlike Rome, Pompeii was not big enough to afford other amusements like chariot racing and mock naval battles. * Gladiators not only fought against themselves, using various weapons, but they were also pitted against animals, such as bears and wild boars. * Citizens paid more money the closer their seats were to the action, and the top level seats right up the back were free. Sometimes all the seats were free, if a wealthy person (patriarch) had given money to pay for the show. * Romans believed that their gods liked gladiatorial fights, so that going to the fights was sort of a religious experience as well as being fun, strangely to us Romans, liked watching people die. * The body of a women with lots of jewellery found in the amphitheatre reinforces the idea that gladiators were sex symbols for the Roman public and when allowed had a variety of visitors, from prostitutes to ordinary citizens. * The Palaestra nearby reveals the training set up for the gladiators. * Generated a lot of money and jobs, was an economic giant. * Interesting fact: Evidence shows that emperor Domitian sometimes pitted female fighters against male dwarves, though...
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