Damnatio ad bestias

In the late first century, Roman Emperor Titus had a slew of problems to compound his first year… Vesuvius erupted, plague, fires in Rome. He decided to distract everyone with a celebration to commemorate the completion of his newest resort, the Flavian Amphitheater.


The structure is located on a site that Nero had acquired for his personal enjoyment. Nearby, he had a towering statue made of himself. It was so yuge – colossal! – that it later inspired the modern name of the amphitheater: The Colosseum.


But Titus, not having a good start to his emperorage, ordered up a set of games that would last more than a ridiculous 100 days. According to contemporary accounts, the festivities involved gladiatorial combat, executions, hunting – odd that, given the small topography, and … animal “entertainments”. Elephants, cranes, pigs, bison, many more, but the crowd favorites were always the lions. After days and days …and days, administrators were faced with both bored citizens.

By sheer coincidence, the empire was also faced with a host of pesky upstart religions. The obvious solution? Coliseum entertainment! Put some lions in the ring…toss in some fanatics! Especially the ones predicting change!


The lions were quite busy, but ate well.

One was overheard telling a newbie, “This business takes a lot of work, but the prophets are good.”



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