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The spectacles he exhibited to the people were of various kinds; namely. a combat of gladiators,1 and stage-plays in the several wards of the city, and in different languages; likewise Circensian games, 2 wrestlers, and the representation of a sea-fight. In the conflict of gladiators presented in the Forum, Furius Leptinus, a man of praetorian family, entered the lists as a combatant, as did also Quintus Calpenus, formerly a senator, and a pleader of causes. The Pyrrhic dance was performed by some youths, who were sons to persons ol the first distinction in Asia and Bithynia. In the plays, Decimus Laberius, who had been a Roman knight, acted in his own piece; and being presented on the spot with five hundred thousand sesterces, and a gold ring, he went from the stage, through the orchestra, and resumed his place in the seats allotted for the equestrian order. In the Circensian games, the circus being enlarged at each end, and a canal sunk round it, several of the young nobility drove chariots, drawn, some by four, and others by two horses, and likewise rode races on single horses. The Trojan game was acted by two distinct companies of boys, one differing from the other in age and rank. The hunting of wild beasts was presented for five days successively; and on the last day a battle was fought by five hundred foot, twenty elephants, and thirty horse on each side. To afford room for this engagement, the goals were removed, and in their space two camps were pitched, directly opposite to each other. Wrestlers likewise performed for three days successively, in a stadium provided for the purpose in the Campus Martius. A lake having, been dug in the little Codeta, 3 ships of the Tyrian and Egyptian fleets, containing two, three, and four banks of oars, with a number of men on board, afforded an animated representation of a sea-fight. To these various diversions there flocked such crowds of spectators from all parts, that most of the strangers were obliged to lodge in tents erected in the streets, or along the roads near the city. Several in the throng were squeezed to death, amongst whom were two senators.
1 Gladiators were first publicly exhibited at Rome by two brothers called Brufi, at the funeral of their father, A.U.C. 490; and for some time they were exhibited only on such occasions. But afterwards they were also employed by the magistrates, to entertain the people, particularly at the Saturnalia, and feasts of Minerva. These cruel spectacles were prohibited by Constantine, but not entirely suppressed until the time of Honorius.
2 The Circensian games were shews exhibited in the Circus Maximus, and consisted of various kinds: first, chariot and horse-races, of which the Romans were extravagantly fond. The charioteers were distributed into four parties, distinguished by the colour of their dress. The spectators, without regarding the speed of the horses, or the skill of the men, were attracted merely by one or the other of the colours, as caprice inclined them. In the time of Justinian, no less than thirty thousand men lost their lives at Constantinople, in a tumult raised by a contention amongst the partizans of the several colours. Secondly, contests of agility and strength; of which there were five kinds, hence called Pentathlum. These were, running, leaping, boxing, wrestling, and throwing the discus or quoit. Thirdly, Ludus Trojae, a mock-fight, performed by young noblemen on horseback, revived by Julius Caesar, and frequently celebrated by the succeeding emperors. We meet with a description of it in the fifth book of the Aeneid, beginning with the following lines:
Fourthly, Venatio, which was the fighting of wild beasts with one another, or with men called Bestarii, who were either forced to the combat by way of punishment, as the primitive Christians were, or fought voluntarily, either from a natural ferocity of disposition, or induced by hire. An incredible number of animals of various kinds were brought from all quarters, at a prodigious expense, for the entertainment of the people. Pompey, in his second consulship, exhibited at once five hundred lions, which were all dispatched in five days; also eighteen elephants. Fifthly, the representation of a horse and foot battle, with that of an encampment or a siege. Sixthly, the representation of a sea-fight (Naumachia), which was at first made in the Circus Maximus, but afterwards elsewhere. The combatants were usually captives or condemned malefactors, who fought to death, unless saved by the clemency of the emperor. If any thing unlucky happened at the games, they were renewed, and often more than once.
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