The civilization of Ancient Rome is remembered for several reasons: the effectiveness of its army and the expansion of its empire, the consolidation of a legal system (Roman law) and a new way of understanding entertainment. In relation to leisure, the spectacle of the Roman circus is the historical antecedent of the great sporting events of today. Roman circus
Bread and Circus
Part of the public money was earmarked for the entertainment of the people. The Roman rulers considered this to be a good strategy for the population as a whole to be satisfied and domesticated. In popular parlance , the expression “bread and circuses” is still used to remind people that much of society needs only to cover their basic needs and enjoy themselves.
Gladiator fights and other shows
For the Romans, the theater was a cultural spectacle, while the circus was intended for pure entertainment. The journeys in the circus were enlivened with music and the participation of jugglers and acrobats. Roman circus
Before starting the show, the participants paraded before the audience in their best clothes.
The Roman circus was usually located in a valley, enabled by a sand track and the slopes of the hills served as stands for the spectators. To make them safe and secure, water wells were built.
One of the spectacles was the race of horses drawn by chariots and led by a charioteer who carried the reins of the horses in one hand and a whip in the other. These races had two modalities: with four horses or quadrigae and with two horses or bigae.
Fights between wild animals were equally popular. For the animals to become more aggressive, they were stimulated with stings and even fire. Roman circus
The fights between gladiators or ludi gladiatori was the spectacle most valued by the people
Most of the combatants were prisoners of war who had been trained in all manner of killing techniques . Despite his condition as a slave, the gladiator received a good salary and had great social prestige .
Combatants died most of the time and fights were carried out in different ways: in pairs, in groups or by simulating two small armies.
All forms of entertainment integrated into the circus were part of the Ludi public or public performances. In the private field, the Romans enjoyed other recreational activities: by attending the thermal waters, with the throwing of discs or darts, through large banquets or else by fighting between exercises. Roman circus