The gladiatorial games probably originated as part of the funeral rites for prominent Romans, but they eventually became the most popular form of entertainment which is known to us as Roman games. They have acquired a reputation for brutality, which was at least in part due to the fact that prisoners sentenced to death were sent to the Arena to die for the entertainment of at least some of the spectators. This does, however, not differ in principle from the medieval practice of burning at the stake, and of hanging, drawing and quartering in public with a large crowd watching. These executions were only a small part of the gladiatorial contests. This "games" were always attracting views of many scolars and literature writers. Historians points out that the lives of well-trained gladiators were too valuable to their owner or employer (if they were free men) to be wasted; in the gladatorial contests relatively few of the gladiators who lost the contest got the 'thumbs down', and most lived to fight again. (Barton, 1991)

Niebuhr, who authored "The Roman History", considers that the fights of the gladiators originated as funerary rites. Tertullian and various other Roman authors wrote that prisoners of war and slaves were killed at funerals, without being able to defend themselves, to appease the souls of the dead, and that fights of gladiators were, in a sense, a more civilised approach. (Niebuhr, 1827) If the detailed description of gladiatorial practice seems quite revolting in this age, it is appropriate to note that cruelty of this kind was still common the late Middle Ages.

The theatres were originally wooden structures, and an amphitheatre was formed by rotating two adjacent theatres on pivots. It seems that the first stone amphitheatre was built in Pompeii, where its ruins are still standing, and several stone amphitheatres had been built by the time the construction of the Flavian Amphitheatre was started in the 2nd half of the 1st century AD. The name Colosseum was entirely appropriate. It had the height of a modern twelve-storey building, and the people in the top seats had a great deal of climbing to do. Its seating capacity was 85 000, and there were vast spaces underground to accommodate the gladiators, the wild animals, and the prisoners who were to die. (Barrow, 1928)

Troughton, who specialises in archaeology at the " University of Rome and works part-time a the Superintendency of Pompeii, expresses the La Sapienza" view that while gladiators lived dangerously, those who showed skill and pleased the crowd could earn exceptional rewards. (Troughton, 1968) They were undoubtedly hugely popular with women. During the excavation of the gladiators' barracks the skeleton of a woman was found which had expensive jewellery, suggesting that this admiration was not limited to the lower classes.

The movement of such a large number of spectators required a careful layout of the passages, and numerical labelling to guide them to their seats; Rosella Rea has worked this out and reproduced some of the guide numbers. The underground part needed security arrangements resembling those of modern prisons and zoos. The quality of the masonry, and particularly that of the long-spanning brick arches, is superb. The spectators could in hot weather be protected from the sun by a velarium supported by wooden struts and a complex system of ropes, which were operated by sailors from the fleet stationed at Misenum, who had the expertise of handling large sails. The achievement of power in Roman politics involved increasingly violent forms of persuasion, both real force and its representation. The developed amphitheater heightened the impact of the representations while allowing the producer of the games to retain his control over the audience's reaction. ...

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