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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. 19.429-446), and from its being represented as the pastime of gods and heroes (Il. 5.49, 21.485; Od. 6.102, 11.572): as a matter of necessity, we find it of course practised both to get food (Od. 9.154) and to destroy wild beasts dangerous to life and property (Il. 5.555, 9.543; cf. Paus. 1.27). The animals hunted are lions (Il. 17.132), panthers (21.573), wild boars (11.414), deer (11.473; Od. 10.159, 19.227), 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. Od. 17.312), and the hunting-party follows armed with spears. The Homeric hunting weapons are spears (δόρυ, ἔγχος, Od. 10.161, 19.437), javelins (ἄκοντες, Il. 11.551; αἰγανέαι, Od. 9.156), bows and arrows (Il. 11.473), clubs (Od. 11.575). It may be noted that Döderlein takes αἰγανέαι to be arrows in the passage cited above, but he is probably wrong: see Il. 2.774; Buchholz, Homer. Realien, 2.33.

The later Greek hunting may be best studied in Xenophon's treatise Cynegeticus, 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 (λόσμος κυνῶν) consists of collars (δέραια), 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 πάρεισιν), 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, venabulum), which are not thrown as javelins, but are slanted to receive a charge (cf. Verg. 4.131, 9.553; Plin. Ep. 1.6; Cic. 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, Denkm. 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 κυνηγετικόν, 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; Vopisc. Prob. 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 ludus matutinus, 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. 39.22). 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. 44.18; 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. 8.9.) 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 (euripi). 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. 39; 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. 21; 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; D. C. 45.25); 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 Capitolinus (Gordian, [p. 2.938]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, 33).

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. 2.379.)

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.

Fig. 2.

Fig. 3.

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,

Fig. 4.

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. G. ii.5 348 ff.; Marquardt, Staatsverw. 3.565; Baumeister, Denkm. 2104 ff.)

[W.S] [G.E.M]

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