1. (θήρα, κυνηγεσία.
) That hunting was
practised as early as the Homeric age, not only for food and profit but also
as a sport by the more wealthy, is clear from the description of the
hunting-party which Autolycus arranged for Odysseus (Od. 19.429
), and from its being represented as the pastime of gods and
heroes (Il. 5.49
; Od. 6.102
): as a matter of necessity, we find it
of course practised both to get food (Od.
) and to destroy wild beasts dangerous to life and property
; cf. Paus. 1.27
). The animals
hunted are lions (Il. 17.132
(21.573), wild boars (11.414), deer (11.473; Od.
), ibex (Od. 17.295
), hares (ib.) As regards the
method and appliances, we get information on most points from the passage of
the Odyssey alluded to above (19.429-446), in which we notice especially the
absence of nets as a point of difference from later Greek and Roman hunting
[RETE]. The huntsmen (ἐπακτῆρες
) take the hounds forward to track the boar (cf.
), and the hunting-party
follows armed with spears. The Homeric hunting weapons are spears (δόρυ, ἔγχος,
), javelins (ἄκοντες,
), bows and arrows (Il. 11.473
), clubs (Od. 11.575
). It may be noted that Döderlein takes
to be arrows in the passage
cited above, but he is probably wrong: see Il.
; Buchholz, Homer. Realien,
The later Greek hunting may be best studied in Xenophon's treatise
where, after mention of the divine beings
who loved the sport, we find a description of the nets (for which and their
use, see RETE), and then an account of the hounds,
their breed, their points, powers of scent, &c. Their equipment
) consists of collars
), leashes or couples (ἱμάντες
), and broad belts (στελμονίαι
) with spikes sewn in, to obviate the
inconvenience of dogs and bitches hunting together. It is noticeable that as
a point of training they are never allowed to hunt foxes, because it takes
them off their proper game (ἐν τῷ δέοντι οὔποτε
), The ἀρκύωρος
goes out very early and sets the nets into which the hunted animal is to be
driven: the κυνηγέτης,
who wears a light
dress suited for running, and carries a stick (ῥόπαλον
), brings on the hounds, and the hare is either
driven into the nets or run till she falls exhausted, or sometimes is killed
by the ῥόπαλον.
In snowy weather the hare
is tracked without dogs, since the snow snakes tracking easy and the frost
injures the dogs' feet. For hunting deer, a larger and stronger hound, which
he calls Ἰνδική,
is used, and the hunter
has javelins: besides the ordinary apparatus of nets, snares called πεδοστράβαι
are set about the haunts of the
herd. This is a wooden clog with a noose to catch the foot, covered lightly
with earth: the deer drags this in his flight, which is thus slower and more
easily tracked. For wild boars, besides the boar-hounds and nets we find
mention of boar-spears (δόρυ,
), which are not thrown as javelins,
but are slanted to receive a charge (cf. Verg. 4.131, 9.553; Plin. Ep. 1.6
Ver. 5.3, 7
). The πεδοστράβαι
are used for boars also. Lions and
panthers he speaks of as only trapped by pitfalls (with a decoy) or poisoned
(cf. Plin. [p. 2.937]H. N.
8.99). The Roman
method of hunting hares, deer, or wild boars was essentially the same as
that described by Xenophon (cf. Oppian and Nemesianus). Representations of
the Roman sport are found in Pompeian paintings (see Baumeister,
p. 711). [G.E.M
2. The name venatio
was given among the Romans
to an exhibition of wild beasts, which fought with one another and with men.
These exhibitions originally formed part of the games of the Circus. Julius
Caesar first built a wooden amphitheatre for the exhibition of wild beasts,
which is called by Dio Cassius (43.22) θέατρον
and the same name is given to the amphitheatre
built by Statilius Taurus (Id. 51.23), and also to the celebrated one of
Titus (Id. 66.24); but even after the erection of the latter we frequently
read of Venationes in the Circus (Spart. Hadr.
19). The persons who fought with the beasts were
either condemned criminals or captives, or individuals who did so for the
sake of pay and were trained for the purpose. [BESTIARII
The Romans were as passionately fond of this entertainment as of the
exhibitions of gladiators, and during the latter days of the Republic and
under the Empire an immense variety of animals was collected from all parts
of the Roman world for the gratification of the people, and many thousands
were frequently slain at one time. The spectacle was called especially
because, when a
gladiatorial combat also was given, the venatio came first early in the day
(Friedländer, S. G.
2.349). The first recorded
occasion of a venatio was in B.C. 186, in the games celebrated by M. Fulvius
in fulfilment of the vow which he had made in the Aetolian war; in these
games lions and panthers were exhibited (Liv.
). It is mentioned as a proof of the growing magnificence of the
age that in the Ludi Circenses, exhibited by the curule aediles P. Cornelius
Scipio Nasica and P. Lentulus, B.C. 168, there were sixty-three African
panthers and forty bears and elephants (Liv.
; cf. Mart. Spectac.
passim). From about this
time combats with wild beasts probably formed a regular part of the Ludi
Circenses, and many of the curule aediles made great efforts to obtain rare
and curious animals, and put in requisition the services of their friends.
(Compare Caelius's letter to Cicero, Cic. Fam.
.) Elephants are said to have first fought in the Circus in the
curule aedileship of Claudius Pulcher, B.C. 99, and twenty years afterwards,
in the curule aedileship of the two Luculli, they fought against bulls
(Plin. Nat. 8.19
). A hundred lions
were exhibited by Sulla in his praetorship, which were destroyed by javelin
men sent by king Bocchus for the purpose. This was the first time that lions
were allowed to be loose in the Circus; they were previously always tied up
(Senec. de Brev. Vit.
13). The games, however, in the curule
aedileship of Scaurus, B.C. 58, surpassed anything the Romans had ever seen;
among other novelties he first exhibited a hippopotamus and five crocodiles
in a temporary canal or trench (euripus,
Plin. Nat. 8.96
). At the venatio given by
Pompey in his second consulship, B.C. 55, upon the dedication of the temple
of Venus Victrix, and at which Cicero was present (Cic. Fam. 7.1
), there was an immense number of animals
slaughtered, among which we find mention of 600 lions, and eighteen or
twenty elephants: the latter fought with Gaetulians, who hurled darts
against them, and they attempted to break through the railings (clathri
) by which they were separated from the
spectators (Senec. l.c.;
Plin. Nat. 8.21
). To guard against this
danger Julius Caesar surrounded the arena of the amphitheatre with trenches
). The pilae
of the amphitheatre were puppets or effigies of straw
thrown in to divert the attention of an infuriated animal, or at other times
to stimulate and excite him (Mart. Spectac.
9, 19). In the
first fragment of the speech pro Cornclio
Cicero speaks of
“homines foeneos in medium ad tentandum periculum
projectos,” i. e. to judge of the temper of the animal, whether he
would sulk or charge: compare “men of straw,” and “fiat
experimentum in corpore vili.”
In the games exhibited by Julius Caesar in his third consulship, B.C. 45, the
venatio lasted for five days and was conducted with extraordinary splendour.
Camelopards or giraffes were then for the first time seen in Italy (D. C. 43.23
; Suet. Jul.
; Plin. H. N.
l.c.; Appian, App. BC 2.102
; Veil. Pat. 2.56). Julius
Caesar also introduced bull-fights, in which Thessalian horsemen pursued the
bulls round the circus, and, when the latter were tired out, seized them by
the horns and killed them. This seems to have been a favourite spectacle; it
was repeated by Claudius and Nero (Suet. Cl.
; D. C. 61.9
). In the games celebrated
by Augustus, B.C. 29, the hippopotamus and the rhinoceros were first
exhibited, according to Dio Cassius (51.22), but the hippopotamus is spoken
of by Pliny, as mentioned above, in the games given by Scaurus. Augustus
also exhibited a huge snake (Suet. Aug. 43
and thirty-six crocodiles, which are seldom mentioned in the spectacles of
later times (D. C. 55.10
The occasions on which venationes were exhibited have been incidentally
mentioned above. They seem to have been first confined to the Ludi
Circenses; but during the later times of the Republic, and under the Empire,
they were frequently exhibited on the celebration of triumphs, and on many
other occasions, with the view of pleasing the people. The passion for these
shows continued to increase under the Empire, and the number of beasts
sometimes slaughtered seems almost incredible. At the consecration of the
great amphitheatre of Titus, 5000 wild beasts and 4000 tame animals were
killed (Suet. Tit. 7
); and in the games celebrated by Trajan, after his
victories over the Dacians, there are said to have been as many as 11,000
animals slaughtered (Id. 68.15). Under the emperors we read of a particular
kind of venatio, in which the beasts were not killed by bestiarii, but were
given up to the people, who were allowed to rush into the area of the circus
and carry away what they pleased. On such occasions a number of large trees,
which had been torn up by the roots, were planted in the circus, which thus
resembled a forest, and none of the more savage animals were admitted into
it. A venatio of this kind was exhibited by Gordian I. in his aedileship,
and a painting of the forest with the animals in it is described by Julius
3). One of the most extraordinary venationes of
this kind was that given by Probus, in which there were 1000 ostriches, 1000
stags, 1000 boars, 1000 deer, and numbers of wild goats, wild sheep, and
other animals of the same kind (Vopisc. Prob.
19). The more
savage animals were slain by the bestiarii in the amphitheatre, and not in
the circus. Thus, in the day succeeding the venatio of Probus just
mentioned, there were slain in the amphitheatre 100 and the same number of
lionesses, 100 Libyan and 100 Syrian leopards, and 300 bears (Vopisc. l.c.
). It is unnecessary to multiply examples, as
the above are sufficient to give an idea of the numbers and variety of
animals at these spectacles; but the list of beasts which were collected by
Gordian III. for his triumph, and were exhibited by his successor Philip at
the Secular Games, deserves mention on account of their variety and the
rarity of some of them. Among these we find mention of 32 elephants, 10
elks, 10 tigers (which seem to have been very seldom exhibited), 60 tame
lions, 30 tame leopards, 10 hyaenas, an hippopotamus and rhinoceros, 10
archoleontes (it is unknown what they were), 10 camelopards, 20 onagri (wild
asses, or perhaps zebras), 40 wild horses, and an immense number of similar
animals (Vopisc. Gordian,
These spectacles were continued till the 6th century, but had gradually
become less destructive structive to human life, since the bestiarii had
more contrivances afforded for their protection and more opportunity allowed
them for escape from a dangerous encounter. (See on this point
Friedländer, S. G.
Combats of wild beasts are sometimes represented on the coins of Roman
families, as on the annexed coin of M. Livineius Regulus, which probably
refers to the venatio of Julius Caesar mentioned above.
Coin of M. Livineius Regulus.
In the bas-reliefs on the tomb of Scaurus at Pompeii, there are
representations of combats with wild beasts, which are copied in the
following woodcuts from Mazois (Pomp.
i. pll. 32, 33). On the
same tomb gladiatorial combats are represented, which are figured under GLADIATORES
Fig. 1 represents a man naked and unarmed between a lion and a panther.
Persons in this defenceless state had of course only their agility to trust
to in order to escape from the beasts:
Reliefs from the tomb of Scaurus. Fig. 1.
but it must be confessed, as Baumeister notices, that the apparent
flight of both animals lacks explanation.
In Fig. 2 we see a bestiarius against whom a wild boar is rushing: he has
probably lost or broken his spear, and has little chance of escape. In the
same relief there is a wolf running at full speed, and also a stag with a
rope tied to his horns who has been pulled down by two animals, probably
wolves. The third relief is supposed by Mazois to represent the training of
a bestiarius: Baumeister with greater probability takes it as a combat. It
may result in the two animals attacking either each other or the bestiarii.
The man on the left is stimulating the bull with a venabulum;
the armed bestiarius to the right is watching for
a favourable moment to throw his javelin. For the panther attached by a rope
to the bull, cf. Sen. de Ira,
3.43. The fourth woodcut represents a man equipped in the same way
as the matador in the [p. 2.939]
Spanish bull-fights in the
present day, namely, with a sword in one hand and a veil in the other. The
veil was first employed in the arena in the time of the Emperor Claudius
(Plin. Nat. 8.54
). The animal is
supposed to be intended for a bear. (Friedländer, S.
ii.5 348 ff.; Marquardt,
3.565; Baumeister, Denkm.