Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Animals of the Colosseum

 From Ancient World Magazine:
The Colosseum was inaugurated in AD 80, but we have reports of great hunting shows even before that date. For example, in 104 BC, Muzio Scaevola and Licinius Crassus staged a venatio in the Circus Maximus with a hundred lions to celebrate their victory over Jugurtha, King of Numidia. In the middle of that same century, Marcus Scaurus organized a hunt with five crocodiles, one hippo, and 150 leopards.
A few years later, the grandeur of all of this was completely surpassed by the incredible spectacle offered by the rich Pompey. During the games, he organized the slaughter of 400 leopards, 600 elephants, and many monkeys. The special guests at this carnage were a rhino and a lynx, the latter from northern Europe. This was the grandest venatio ever held before the construction of the Colosseum and a show with so many animals was never repeated.
Neither Julius Caesar nor even Augustus, the first Roman emperor, who killed three thousand five hundred animals during his reign, managed, in a single show, to surpass the magnitude of the one organized by Pompey. Nero brought in 300 lions and 400 bears, and during the 100 days of parties and games arranged by Titus for the inauguration of the Colosseum in AD 80 9,000 animals were killed. This number is still small compared with the 11,000 reached by Trajan almost thirty years later to celebrate his victories over the Dacians (the foregoing, see: Hopkins and Beard 2005). (Read more.)

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