Why were gladiatorial games and bloodsports so popular in the
What sparked this question again for me was reading The Sun Also Rises, by Earnest Hemingway. Not ancient history, true, but it does have passages about the running of the bulls and bull fights in
Of course, I am aware of the Pamplona, Spain
festival and bull fights which are a remnant of the ancient events of the
amphitheatre. A matador may not be Spartacus but he certainly has cojones. Pamplona Reading
got me to Googling some photos of the festival which led me to one thought: Pamplona
People are fu#*ing crazy!
And yet, people continue to do it, to watch it. I suppose it is way more ‘manly’ to face down a bull with a sword (or run from one) than to shoot a lion or moose from 100 meters with a gun. The latter is no test of strength in my opinion. Get in the ring with a lion and a knife in your hand, then you’ll be brave, or at the very least off your head.
But what about today? Why is bull fighting, boxing or, an even better example, why is Ultimate Fighting Challenge, so popular? The latter is not the phony, chair swinging, airborne drop-kicking show of the WWF any more. These guys are in the ring beating the hell out of each other while people in bars across the world sip drinks and watch and cheer and hope for the mischance that will make it all the more exciting.
If history has taught us anything, it is that violence is inherent to human nature. Even though people feel disgusted or repelled by something horrific, much of the time, they feel the urge to look, to gawp. Is it like watching an awful talk show where the people on the stage are so far gone that it makes the viewer feel better about their own life? Are we ok watching because the people are strangers to us? Would we feel differently if we knew the person? The need for violence, to watch it, must go deeper than that. Why then does not everyone wish to witness it? Maybe it comes down to one’s constitution, that some are just more able to handle the sight of it?
|Ultimate Fighting Challenge|
What about the moral dilemma facing the practice and viewing of bloodsports? Is not the mark of true civilization that we strive for goodness in every aspect of life? I suppose it depends on your perspective.
I don’t have an answer and I’m sure there are a plethora of sociological and psychological theories on violence in ancient and modern times. It is just something that perhaps we should think about next time our eyes search an accident scene as we drive by, or the next time we turn on the television to watch some stranger have his face turned to pulp.
, the games were not only a showcase for
the powers that be, they were an occurrence in which the populace would be
brought together to share in something alongside their rulers. Even in
hindsight, it is difficult to fully understand the appeal. But the games lived
on for hundreds of years, having made the transition from funerary rite to
public display for the entertainment of all. Rome
The waiter asks if anything happened at the running that morning and Jake tells him that one man was badly gored. One would expect the waiter, a local who makes money off the festival, to be a fan of the running of the bulls, the fights. And yet, as Jake tells him about the man getting a horn through the back and out the chest, he shakes his head and says:
“All for sport. All for pleasure… You hear? Muerto. Dead. He’s dead. With a horn through him. All for morning fun… Not for me… No fun in that for me.”
I think I’m with the waiter on this.
|Scene from Spartacus: Gods of the Arena|
If I were a young citizen in ancient
, would I find myself
at the amphitheatre, yelling for a victor to slit the throat of a fallen foe?
Perhaps. They were different times, far removed from our modern mindset. I know
I wouldn’t want to see that today. I think I would much rather find myself in
the Circus Maximus taking in the chariot races. But that’s just me. Rome