Roman Social Life

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During the first century AD entertainment was an important part of a Roman’s life. All Romans, regardless of status, would have attended these events at the baths, circus, amphitheatre or theatre. Entertainment was usually sponsored by the Emperor and was often used as a way to keep the Plebian masses supportive and happy.

First century Roman entertainment was often a mixture of music, animals, parades, priests and officials. Most entertainment also contained elements of comedy, drama and violence. Because of this people had mixed attitudes to the sponsored activities. Most Romans finished work at midday and an afternoon spend at some form of entertainment was a conventional way to spend the rest of the day.

Some of the most significant forms of public entertainment in ancient Rome took place in an amphitheatre, a large, oval shaped platform surrounded by tiered seats. The best-known amphitheatre is the Colosseum, named for the colossal statue of Nero which stood nearby. It rises to a height of more than 50 metres and provides seating for 45,000 people and standing room for a further 5,000. Seating arrangement was structured by class. The emperor had his own special box, the front rows were reserved for senators, the equestrian order sat behind them and so on. Soldiers and civilians sat a part, as did women and men except where married couples were concerned.

The Romans enjoyed many kinds of fights in the arena. During wild beast hunts called venations trained huntsmen called bestiarii pursued, fought and slaughtered animals such as lions, tigers, leopards, elephants and hippopotamuses, which were normally imported from provinces like Africa. The animals were starved to make them more fierce and the massacre more exciting but the hunters had shelters to retreat to and archers were positioned outside the arena so the hunters were seldom at real danger. In another kind of animal hunt, harmless animals such as giraffes and ostriches were hunted where the...
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