Gladiatorial games, was a mean to please the Roman population. Before they became a mean of entertainment for the Roman citizens, gladiatorial games began as being a funerary rite, to honor the memory of the dead. The reason for the gladiatorial games becoming a form of entertainment for the public is because of its popularity. Before the gladiatorial games, also known as the munera, became a mean of entertainment they also served as a purpose to boost the social morale during times of need, to help the Roman society to deal with threats and battles. Throughout this paper I will prove to you that the gladiatorial games were first started as funerary rites to honor the dead, which then turned into events to lift the Romans spirits and deal with problems, where as afterwards they simply became a form of entertainment for the Ancient Romans.
There is a lot of evidence to prove that gladiatorial games were first established to honor the memory of the dead. The first known evidence for gladiatorial games in Rome are dated back to 264 B.C., when the sons of Junius Brutus preparing a munera in honor of the memory of their father. "The gladiatorial combats first appeared in Rome long after the Circus games, in 264 B.C., as a funerary rite reserved to the aristocracy. That year, indeed, the sons of Junius Brutus, descendants of the great Brutus, decided to honour the memory of their father by matching three pairs of slaves against one another, according to a custom which was not of Roman origin." . Another source to back this theory up is: "The canonical date given for the introduction of gladiatorial combat to Rome is 264 B.C., at the funeral games of Junius Brutus Pera, (
)" . In these two situations it is clear to see that the Roman gladiatorial combats were first started to honor the memory of the dead, other examples of different authority figures are that of M. Aemilius Lepidus. "(
) the three sons, Lucius, Marcus, and Quintus, gave funeral games for three days and twenty-two pairs of gladiators in the forum for [their father] M. Aemilius Lepidus, who had been consul twice and augur." , which took place in 216 B.C.. Theirs is also one more quote involving Caesar, and the gladiatorial games he put on, in honor of his fathers death, which I will be mentioning further on. Having a gladiatorial combat in your name meant that you had high status in Roman society, which meant great honor. In this time it was normal for gladiatorial games to take place, even though now it is not excepted to any extent, because it was known as an obligation to honor the dead with this type of event, "But it was not because they constituted a munificence in which the populace was invited to share, that these games were known as munera; the reason was, according to a tradition handed down to us by Tertullian, that they represented above all an obligation' to the dead."
Another reason stated, for the existence of gladiatorial games is to lift the Romans spirits in times of need. Most certainly during wars, especially against the Carthaginians and also other worrisome events, per say: the Punic War, the Battle at Cannae, etc. The significance of these funeral rituals can also be extracted from the Livian context, specifically with reference to the dates of the Iunian and Aemilian munera. The year 264 saw the beginning of the First Punic War. The year of the Battle at Cannae was 216. The chronology of the munera is surely no coincidence; these rituals combats, as they appear in the sources, should be understood as part of the morale-boosting social and religious innovations and reforms made to deal with the threat from Carthage.
As shown in this statement it is clear to see the association between crisis of the citizens of Rome and the mentioning of the muneras. It is believed that gladiatorial games did not have a gap of about 50 years between the first shows ever mentioned, therefore it is thought the gladiatorial shows were...
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