Day of Show
A day in the Colosseum was very similar to a day in the modern arena; there were just more titties and a lot more blood mixed with the smell of shit in the air. Guys outside selling tickets, sausage stands, hooligans repping their favorite fighter class and old rich guys getting the best seats with young golddiggers on their side and their wives in the stands further back mad as fuck and planning a poisoning later; what a glorious day at the murder park!
The Morning Show: Coffee and Bear Fights
The first events of the day were the animal fights, circus performances, and animal hunts. The Colosseum was equipped with numerous cages to hold all manner of critters and they were kept hungry and pissed off for game day. Once set into the arena, they would proceed to rip up everything around them and, occasionally, grab hold of a dumbass in the stands for an appetizer. Animals are unpredictable, however, and some would freeze up and hide in a corner. But the trainers wouldn’t have that shit and would use burning straws to get that bitch moving and murdering/getting murdered. Bears would be chained to bulls and would battle it out; combos such as bull vs elephant, lion vs leopard, and rhino vs buffalo occurred as well. Unlike gladiators, however, the winner is either killed (if mortally wounded) or made to fight again the next day until it died. Rome gave no fucks about critters.
The circus acts were a light hearted break from animal brutality and would have trained animals doing the type of things that make you say “aww.” A example of this would be a rabbit being released into the arena and a trained tiger would chase it, play with it, carry it in its jaw without crushing its little brains out and deliver it to the trainers. Everyone was happy…except the rabbit who was likely stewed later.
Then there were the hunts which had a massive amount of animals released into the arena and guys with spears would come in and start stabbing them up. The first round would be against fairly chill creatures like antelopes, ostriches and donkeys. The second round would be against animals that were a bit more likely to not pity a fool like elephants, lions and bears. To the animals’ credit, they did occasionally take out a hunter. There’s an account of elephants teaming up to fight off hunters and winning. But more often than not, the hunters would win the fights. And what was the point of the animal fights outside of entertainment? Rome just wanted to tell Mother Nature that she can go fuck herself. That’s pretty much it.
Lunchtime: Hoagie with a side of Crucifixion
The big show of man vs man didn’t start until the afternoon but some people didn’t want to leave due to fear of losing their seats so what better time to get rid of Rome’s unwanted while most are off getting snacks and taking a piss and shit (l like to call taking a piss and shit a “Papa Sierra” personally) off the side of a ditch somewhere nearby. Prisoners were shoved into cells below the arena the day before their execution. Some prisoners didn’t wait that long and killed themselves beforehand in ways such as shoving their heads between cart wheels for a quick crush and snap (AKA a Charlie Sierra). For the ones that did make it to the big show, their ticket into the afterlife depended on their social status. Citizens usually received a quick death by the sword. Non-citizens, on the other hand, had to hang the fuck in there literally via death on a cross (citizens too when they wanted to humiliate them); death by fire or wild animals were used as well.
One method of execution would be to have two unarmed prisoners enter the arena, give one a sword and tell him to kill the other. After chasing the man down and finishing him off, they would give the sword to a new guy and have him chase down the guy before him. When they got to the last prisoner, that individual would be finished off by a beast hunter. One execution in particular caught my eye. A writer, Martial, recalled an execution involving the myth of the minotaur. If you don’t know it, the gist of it is that King Minos’ wife saw a bull that she wanted balls deep inside her, pretended she was a heifer, balanced on that dick and popped out the minotaur. Well, someone in Rome figured it would be so awesome to see what that actually looked like because imagination isn’t sick enough. A female prisoner was draped in cowhide and her vagina was covered in blood from a cow that was in heat. As he did not provide vivid detail, I am sure taking massive amount of bull cock is not a good thing for the human vagina or nearby internal organs. Oh, and that wasn’t the actual execution so pretty sure they were just passing time until the fires were ready or looking for the right bear to eat her.
Since I’m sure I’ve depressed you just a bit, I will relate one account to you that I think will lighten the mood. During the reign of Augustus, a slave was brought into the arena to be eaten by a lion. When the animal was bought out, it charged toward the slave. But instead of eating the man, it acted like a common house cat and licked his feet while wagging his tail. This, of course, pissed the crowd off and they released a leopard to do the job. The lion gutted the leopard and went right back to chilling with his buddy. So the organizer called the slave over and asked, “what the fuck, bro?” It turned out that the slave was a runaway from Africa and while hiding in a cave, a lion entered. Instead of gnawing on the guy’s bones, however, the lion showed him a thorn in his paw. He pulled it out and the lion bought the man meat as a thank you for months until he was captured. He got lucky as hell as the lion that came out of the cage happened to be the lion he helped long ago. Ultimately, both the slave and the lion were freed.
Puppies and kitties for everyone!
Afternoon Show: Let’s get it on!
The main attraction begins with the pompa, which is essentially a parade of the people who are making the grand show possible. The manager, blacksmiths, and gladiators are among the procession making their way to the center of the arena. Once there, the gladiators would remove their helmets and shields and show off their bodies because broads and bros alike love sweaty nipples. Any modern bodybuilding contest can confirm that opinion. As the rest of the procession left the field, the gladiators warmed up by sparring with wooden weapons. Soon, the gladiators were dismissed once more and the real weapons were brought into the arena for inspection. Once the officials were sure that faulty weapons would not make their murder boner flaccid, the orchestra pumped up the volume and the first matches commenced. Speaking of the pump up:
“It was a widespread misconception that all gladiators, as they passed the emperor’s box to greet him, uttered the words ‘Hail, Caesar, those who are about to die salute you’ (Ave, Ceasar, morituri te salutant). Suetonius, the source of this expression, tells us only that, during a ‘sea battle’ organized by Emperor Claudius on Lake Fucino, the 9,000 prisoners, who had the leading roles, were said to have greeted the emperor with these words. But there is no suggestion that gladiators would have said anything of the kind. Nor is it likely, since gladiators went into a fight in the hope of winning and surviving like Roman soldiers facing difficult battle situations.”
The fights were brutal and could go on for extended periods of time. Fighters were paired up according to class and they often knew their opponents, either from previous fights or from the same school; based on that, it is likely each fighter knew the strength and weaknesses of the other as well. An umpire was present during the fight to ensure rules were followed and to unleash some inspiration in the form of searing hot plates to ass on a gladiator that may not be too eager to battle. The crowd was going to get what they paid for, son! If both fighters were looking like worn out dogshit, the ump would call for a break for water and to get their wind back up. However, if it’s looking like two titans have graced the arena and they are battling to a stalemate, the ump will call off the fight and leave their fate to the top official or often, the emperor himself. He may grant an honorable exit (stantes missi). However, most fights did end with a clear victor.
One thing that stands out about the rise of the popularity of the games from small funeral games to massive stadiums of motherfucking destruction is how the politicians of Rome would use them to gain favor with the poor of the city. The poor had very little say in politics because who gives a fuck about a guy or gal that smells like goat shit and can’t even read his own name. But the one thing the poor did have was the bulk of the population and when they get kicked around and ignored long enough, they tend to riot and fuck things up. Unfortunately for the poor, they are kind of dumb and easily distracted by shiny things. In the modern era, the powers that be maintain control on the populace via shiny new iPhones, toys, and the illusions that their opinions actually mean something via Twitter and Facebook. The morons are appeased and politicians can go about their regular program of making money and snorting cocaine off a soon to be dead hooker’s tits in a gas station bathroom. Well, Roman politicians, men of position and emperors kept the bums placated via the arena. These people wanted the populace to depend on them and to believe that all good things in life will happen as long as they keep sucking on the golden cock of the man in power. Emperors would pass out gifts of meat, gold, pottery and other shinies to be granted after the show. Got a rebellion brewing? Fuck it, have a fight night! Accidentally burned down half the city? Fuck it, make a tiger eat christian tits in the arena! All will be well!
The best thing about the arena to the plebs was that it was the one place where the emperor listened to their opinion. While the emperor had the final say in any matter and some were of the opinion of “fuck these bitch made fools,” he would often defer the fate of a gladiator to the crowds. It empowered the crowd to know they had the power of life and death in their hands. If a fighter asked for mercy and heard ‘Mitte’ (let him go) or ‘Missum” (sent away), he would be allowed to leave the arena alive and return to the gladiator school. But if they yelled ‘Iugula’ (slit his throat) or saw the turned thumbs signal for death, he was done and was expected to accept his fate with courage. He would put his arms around the legs or torso of the winner and bow. The helmet was kept on so the victor did not have to look into his eyes as he thrust his blade between his shoulder blades or neck. Having “ferrum recepit” (received the iron), he would die as the crowd shouts ‘Habet, hoc habet’ (he has it).
The victor would proceed to give a ‘U mad, bro’ pose to the crowd and walk to the emperor’s box to receive his reward: an olive branch, money, and sometimes a laurel reef when they did some baller shit. After bowing to the boss of bosses, he would leave via the Porta Sanavivaria (Gate of Health and Life). Like a celebrity rising up in status, people would have to pay a higher price to see him perform in the arena each time he won. His opponent was laid upon a bier hung with swathes of material, representing the marriage bed of Libtina, the goddess of death and funerals. He’s carried through the Porta Libitinaria and taken to the spoliarium. His weapons were taken away and to make sure he wasn’t faking and attempting an escape, his throat was slit because fuck that malingering bullshit, brochacho.
The Post Game Cleanup
The sun has set on a great day in the arena. Honor and glory were gained; blood, sweat and ass were everywhere, literally. The air for blocks had to reek of rotting animal corpses. Intestines and ravaged penises were all over the place and Bobius Maximus Mopio, the custodian, was contemplating stabbing his brain with the rib bone of a disemboweled prostitute in the far corner of the arena. Think of the last time you went to a party and how great it was; now think of the last time you had to clean up after a party (and dispose of the dead stripper) and you’ll have a tenth of the idea of what the clean up crew of the arena had to deal with. Getting rid of so many corpses and carcasses was not a simple task and took a lot of manpower.
The human corpses were perhaps the biggest annoyance in that you couldn’t just throw them all on a fire or in a hole and call it a day. For one thing, human bodies don’t catch fire easily so you burn through a lot of material just to get them a little crispy. With so many bodies, you’d probably still be left with corpses you’d have to bury anyway. Even if you decide to dump them in some hole somewhere, you had to consider their status. Burying a gladiator who died courageously in the arena and was carried out with honor next to some convicted rapist who was dragged out via meathook was considered bullshit in Roman society so the crew had to sort through all these bodies and make sure people received the honors they deserved.
Romans were really superstitious about that whole afterlife thing and the way they buried you (or didn’t) would further add to the honor or dishonor of the deceased in society. If you were not buried, they felt that your soul would wander the land of the living and you would find no peace. Thus, criminals and people Rome just didn’t like were tossed right off a cliff without honors or even dirt casted on their bodies. It was a final ‘fuck you’ to them in the eyes of Roman society; a form of revenge reaching into the afterlife. They would also dump bodies into the Tiber river (I’m guessing they didn’t drink this water because ew) and apparently, this was worse than the cliff because people could see you floating by and pee on you, I suppose. Even some emperors, like Heliogabalus (they killed him on the toilet, so they say), were chucked into the water to purify Rome of their suckage.
Christians were denied funerals as well because they wouldn’t get down with being all over the emperor’s nuts. But the emperors knew they wanted to be all pretty for their little resurrection so some made sure they were promptly ripped up by wild dogs and other beast to make sure their plans of being hot in the afterlife were totally fucked over. Bodies of the condemned (and living condemned on occasion) were given to the arena’s wild animals as well when feed supply was low. Frankly, if you didn’t have the cash for a proper burial, your corpse was fucked. Many gladiators would form something similar to a union just so they could have a proper burial when they died. The high ranking ones would have their bodies rubbed with ointments and displayed on a bier covered in flowers for a few days before cremation and burial.
Animals were a little tricky to get rid of as well. If they weren’t too heavy, you could throw them on a cart and just ride them out to the cliff with the humans corpses. But hippos, rhinos, big cats and the like were a challenge to transport and I would not be surprised if they took them just far enough away from the city, dug a hole and dump them right there. Another option used was feeding the carcasses to the tamed circus animals, which kept cost down and recycling totally helps the environment. Finally, giving the meat to the poor was a great way to be rid of the excess. Plebs ate like crap. Remember the barley diet of the gladiators? They ate the same thing but add in the possibility that they may not have had that everyday like the athletes plus eating rat and cat was probably the only meat they could rely on daily. Knowing they would have plenty of dead deer and hippo to be rid off, game organizers would pass out tickets that could be cashed for prizes and the meat would be right on the list. Dozens would go home hoisting freshly choked out antelopes and aggravating their sciatica dragging part of an elephant down the street. Historically speaking, Emperor Caligula was a cockbite of the highest order and should have been stabbed in his face the second he emerged from his mom’s taint, but the people mourned his passing for one good reason: his games were the shit and he kept that meat train running. A nice cheap way to keep the arena clean and keep the low class scrub bastards in line; win-win.
To be honest, I’ve omitted topics such as the emperor-gladiators, sea battles and just the mentality that allows this type of carnage to be seen as OK by their culture’s standards. I find them to be topics that whole books can be written on and I’ve already gone longer with this “short” article than intended. If you want more on the subject, it’s time to hit a library as I’ve provided more than enough for a brief overview. In any case, the men and women that were forced or paid to fight in the arena and survived were some of the hardest mofos on the planet and completely worthy of mention in the annals of historically hardass hooligans. Free feel to slam down a shot and dedicate your next bar fight misdemeanor to your ancestors of the arena.