Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Are You Entertained?- Part 1

"Are You Entertained?" is the famous line spoken by Russel Crowe when he played Maximus in the Gladiator, the story of a general turned gladiator. The sad thing about this movie is that it is a great portrayal of the gladiator games in Rome.

Gladiator games were the Roman version of Reality TV for most people. Admission was free unless one wanted the best seats and they went all day long, often for a whole week at a time. Entertainment was not their only function, though, they had a political means behind them.

The games were always funded by politicians looking to be elected to a higher office. A politician looking to get his name out there would convince the wealthy to give money in return for favors. Then he would turn around and use the money to either host a game in his honor or fund some other public function such as the Olympics or repair of the Baths. Same as now, it was usually the man who spent the most money who was elected.

Advertisement fresco
Leading up to the games, in order that people would know who had paid for them, frescoes and other advertisements would be plastered all over the city.

Animal fight in the arena
Obviously, the Roman Games usually bring to mind gladiators, but that is not all that they were. The games were split into three parts. In the morning their would be races and comedians and other forms of what we would call family entertainment. Then around noon, they would start the animal fights and criminal executions. These could range from burning at the stake to attacks by animals. Many Christians found themselves among those killed during this part of the games.

My favorite artist is Jean Leon Gerome. He painted many pictures of the Roman era and specify the games. My favorite piece of his is the one below of Christian's praying before they are to be eaten by lions. If you want to see others of his works, go to this link. Remember that many may be graphic to some eyes.

The Christian Martyr's Last Prayer

Next week I will speak on the gladiators themselves.


1 comment:

  1. Very sobering when I think of what happened in the Roman Colosseum to Christians. I was excited when visiting the famous site while in Italy, but remembered the horrible persecution of Christians during that time...when occurred right where I was standing.

    I also don't understand the love of violence. It was true back then as it is now. Only different is that we have become "civilized" and do not hurt each other 'till death in "sports" such as boxing, ultimate fighting, wresting, etc.