A picture of a mosaic
Criminals being thrown to the beasts (left) and venatores (right) on the Zliten Mosaic.

One form of spectacles in the arena was the execution of criminals; this is also generally the most appalling of the events to read about. These took place at noon, and were the lunchtime show. They were not, however, all that popular, unless the criminal was particularly notorious: there was no skill on show and those about to be executed were not about to be given a means to protect themselves and the Romans, contrary to their popular image, were not always that eager to see people murdered by animals or other people nonstop.  As a result some criminals were killed in elaborately stage-managed re-enactments of mythical spectacles as a way to attract attention. Most, however, were just thrown to the animals.


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Spectacles in the Roman World Copyright © 2020 by Siobhán McElduff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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