Imatges de pàgina

games, has at length encountered a more fortunate or more skilful combatant than himself. Wounded in the breast, he has lowered his buckler in confession of his defeat, and raised his finger towards the people, for it was thus that the gladiators implored mercy. Behind him the Samnite awaits the answer of the spectators, ready to spare, or to despatch him, according to their orders.

In the third pair we behold the combat of a Thracian and a Myrmillo. The swords have mostly disappeared, or were never sculptured by the artist, otherwise the former would have been represented with a crooked scimitar. We do not find on the helmet of the Myrmillo the fish with which they were accustomed to adorn their crest; but he is characterized by his Gaulish arms, whence the whole class acquired their nickname, and we may perceive at his foot the Gaulish half-pike, which he has thrown away at the moment of his defeat. Although conqueror upon fifteen other occasions, 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 Retiurii, 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

* M. Millin, in describing this tomb, proves from several authorities that the 0 was thus placed, because it was the initial of the word davwv-dying.

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 Myrmillo, 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

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. 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 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 three-eighths 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.

* Maffei on Amphitheatres, cap. 6.

of 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.





* And oft, conducted by historic truth,
We tread the long extent of backward time."


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 the National Library, but because there are few continental sports of which we do not find some professed imitation or casual resemblance

ourselves. Human nature is the same in all parts of the earth: the recreations of a rude and illiterate nation must be inevitably limited 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


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