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BESTIA´RII

BESTIA´RII (θηριομάχοι), persons who fought with wild beasts in the games of the circus. They were either persons who fought for the sake of pay (auctoramentum), and who were allowed arms, or they were criminals, who were usually permitted to have no means of defence against the wild beasts. (Cic. pro Sest. 64; Sen. de Benef. 2.19, Ep. 70. 17; Tertull. Apol. 9.) The former class, who were more correctly called venatores, and of whom there were great numbers in the latter days of the republic and under the empire, are always spoken of as distinct from and inferior to the gladiators, who fought with one another. (Cic. in Vatin. 17; ad Qu. Fr. 2.6.5.) There were schools in Rome for their training (scholae bestiarum or bestiariorum, Tertull. Apol. 35). Such were called ludi matutini, from the fact that in the public games the combats with beasts always preceded the fights of the gladiators. (Cf. Friedländer, Sittengesch. vol. ii.3, pp. 366 ff.)

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    • Cicero, Against Vatinius, 17
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