« السابقةمتابعة »
he is at length defeated, and the Thracian, his adversary, gains a thirty-fifth victory. The Myrmillo, wounded in the breast, implores the clemency of the people; but the letter theta, placed at the end of the inscription above him, announces that he was put to death.*
The four following persons, consisting of two Secutores and two Retiarii, offer a still more cruel spectacle. Nepimus, a Retiarius, five times victorious, has fought with a Secutor, whose name is effaced ; but who was no unworthy adversary, since he had triumphed six times in different engagements. On the present occasion he has been less fortunate. Nepimus has struck him on the leg, the thigh, the left arm, and the right side, from all of which the blood flows: in vain has he implored mercy; the spectators have condemned him to death ! But as the trident is not a proper weapon for inflicting a sure and speedy death, it is the Secutor Hippolytus who renders to his comrade this last service. The wretched victim bends his knee, and throws himself upon the fatal sword, while Nepimus, his conqueror, spurns him with his foot and hand, as if he were ferociously insulting him in his last moments. In the distance is seen the Retiarius who is to fight against Hippolytus. The armour of the Secutores was light, for nothing but their agility could afford them a chance of escape and victory. On the head of the Retiarii we perceive no other defence than a bandage: the nets with which they sought to entangle their adversaries are not apparent. This portion of the basrelief is terminated by the combat of a Velite and a Samnite. The latter implores the spectators to grant him his dismissal, which apparently is refused; his adversary looks towards the steps of the amphitheatre ; he has seen the fatal signal, and seems preparing to strike.
Figure 6 forms part of the upper zone, from which, however, it is separated by the pilasters of the gate. In the first combat a Samnite has been conquered by a Myrmillo, who wishes to immolate his antagonist without waiting the decision of the people, to whom the latter has appealed; but the Lanista or master of the gladiators restrains his fury. The next pair offers a similar combat, in which the Myr.
* M. Millin, in describing this tomb, proves from several authorities that the was thus placed, because it was the initial of the word davwy dying.
millo, having received his death-wound, is falling stiffened to the ground.
A less inhuman, but not less sanguinary, spectacle forms the subject of the lower zone (fig. 7). In the upper portion we see a dog chasing hares, a timid animal that would seem scarcely worthy the honour of the circus; but the cruelty of the Romans was ingenious, and by some of Martial's epigrams (lib. i. epig. 15, 23, 53, 71). we know that in certain games hares and lions were turned into the arena at the same time. Further on a wounded stag is pursued by dogs. In the lower part a wild boar is seized by a formidable dog, who has already torn its flank. In the middle of the composition a Bestiarius overthrows a bear by a thrust of his lance. The second Bestiarius has driven his enormous spear entirely through a bull, who, though he still flies, turns his head as if he would renew the attack upon his adversary. The latter testifies the greatest surprise at the inefficacy of this terrible wound, and at finding himself disarmed, and in the power of the infuriated animal.
In dismissing this subject we may remark, in proof of the inordinate extent to which the appetite for human blood was finally carried by the Romans, that, according to Josephus, seven hundred Jewish prisoners of .war were at one time set to fight in the arena. Among other imperial freaks, “ Caligula took sometimes delight, when the sun was most intensely hot, to order the covering of the amphitheatre to be drawn back, and removed of a sudden; prohibiting any one whomsoever from going away from his place.”* Nor did the spectators always escape so cheaply, for, upon one occasion, there being no more condemned criminals, he ordered several lookers-on of the lower rank to be seized and thrown to the wild beasts. Of the invincible attachment of the Romans to these games we may form some opinion from the following circumstance, related by Theodoret in his Ecclesiastical History: “A certain person called Telemachus, by profession a monk, who came from the East, happened on some solemn day to go into the amphitheatre, where he used his utmost endeavours to hinder the combatants from fighting. This unexpected incident so enraged the spectators, that without further ado
* Maffei on Amphitheatres. ,
they rushed upon him, and tore him to pieces ; for which, says our author (and Sozomen also relates the same), the Romans were for the first time forbidden such games."* It appears to have been only a temporary interdiction, and to have occurred in the reign of Constantine. There is no mention of games of any sort after the sixth century, at which time the great amphitheatre of Titus was abandoned to the spoliations of man, and the dilapidation of time and the elements. This enormous pile, which from its vast proportions and marvellous height well merited the name of the Colosseum,t contained, according to Publius Victor, eighty-seven thousand places; it was small, however, compared with the prodigious extent of the Circus Maximus of Cæsar, the great length of which, stretching out to threeeighths of a mile, enabled it, says Pliny, to accommodate two hundred and forty thousand spectators. As illustrating the combined superstition and rudeness of the Roman character, we may mention, before we quit the subject of their amphitheatres, that while the lowest and best seats were reserved for the Vestal virgins, and the ladies of the imperial family, all other females were obliged to toil up to the top of the theatre, where they were not only surrounded by the plebeians and the rabble, but could hear nothing and see little of what was going forward in the arena below.
* Maffei on Amphitheatres, cap. 6.
† That the amphitheatre took its title from its magnitude, and not from the Colossus of Nero in its vicinity, is satisfactorily established by Maffei, cap. 4.
Modern Festivals, Games, and Amusements.-Historical
Thomson. Under this head we shall chiefly confine ourselves to the festivals, games, and pastimes of our own island ; not only as being better adapted to a volume of this Library, but because there are few continental sports of which we do not find some professed imitation or casual resemblance among ourselves.
Human nature is the same in all parts of the earth : the recreations of a rude and illiterate nation must be inevitably liinited to sensual and external gratifications; however, therefore, they may be modified by climate and manners, they must in their main qualities, at least in the earlier stages of civilization, present a considerable degree of similarity. Nothing, moreover, is so difficult to control as popular customs, which, when they have reference to the enjoyments of the lower orders, are considered as their peculiar, often their sole privilege, and are retained with a proportionate obstinacy. We have seen for how many centuries the Pagan games survived the deities in whose honour they were first instituted. More willing to surrender their antiquated religion than the amusements connected with it, the heathen people could only be won to Christianity by a compromise which enabled them to incorporate with the new faith many of the festivals and pastimes of Paganism. These took other names indeed; they were baptized afresh, and consecrated to saints and martyrs, instead of demigods and heroes; but the multitude cared little about the form and title, provided they got the essence, which, according to their estimation, consisted in the holyday and its festive or processional concomitants. Exactly the same thing occurred at the second great religious change-the Reforma
tion, when we adopted many of the stated festivals and holydays, although we uncanonized the saints and martyrs in whom they originated. Of all religions, that part seems to endure the longest which is associated with the pleasures of the people ; no mean argument for making cheerfulness and enjoyment constituents of our devotional observances, instead of seeking to dissever them. In a review of such festivals, sports, and holydays as still exist among us, it will be found that some are originally derived from the Pagans, others from the Papists : we are not aware of any that can be strictly termed modern.
What were the amusements and stated relaxations from labour enjoyed by the ancient inhabitants of Britain, we have no means of ascertaining ; but we know that their religion, like that of the early Greeks and Romans, was a savage superstition, delighting in human sacrifices; and we may therefore conclude that their sports and games, whether emanating from it or not, were of an equally ferocious character. Deficiency in feasts and merrimakings, however, cannot be imputed to any of the old Celtic nations, though the convivial scene was not unfrequently disgraced by Lapithæan strife. It was at a feast that the two illustrious British princes, Cairbar and Oscar, quarrelled about their own bravery and that of their ancestors, and fell by mutual wounds, probably when under the influence of deep potations. Before the general introduction of agriculture, mead seems to have been the only strong liquor known to the inhabitants of our island ; and it continued to be a favourite beverage even after others had been introduced.' The mead-maker was the eleventh person in dignity in the court of the ancient princes of Wales, and took place of the physician. How much this liquor was esteemed by the British princes may be gathered from the following law of the principality : “There are three things in the court which must be communicated to the king before any other person ; 1. Every sentence of the judge; 2. Every new song; and 3. Every cask of mead.” The joys of song and the music of the harp were the accompaniments of the feast, the bards usually celebrating the brave actions of the guests, or the exploits of their ancestors.
Imitation of the Roman conquerors, and a partial adoption of their Paganism, doubtless introduced for a time