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ambition : at last even knights and senators were exhibited, a disgrace of which the first tyrant was naturally the first inventor. * In the end, dwarfs, and even women, fought; an enormity prohibited by Severus. Of these, the most to be pitied undoubtedly were the Barbarian captives; and to this species a Christian writer † justly applies the epithet “innocent,” to distinguish them from the professional gladiators. Aurelian and Claudius supplied great numbers of these unfortunate victims; the one after his triumph, and the other on the pretext of a rebellion. f No war, says Lipsius, $ was ever so destructive to the human race as these sports.
In spite of the laws of Constantine and Constans, gladiatorial shows survived the old established religion more than seventy years; but they owed their final extinction to the courage of a Christian. In the year 404, on the kalends of January, they were exhibiting
* Julius Cæsar, who rose by the fall of the aristocracy, brought Furius Leptinus and A. Calenus upon the arena; but our English poet has adopted a common mistake in saying that he forced a knight upon the stage; the truth is, he made Laberius, who was an actor, a knight, not a knight an actor.
+ Tertullian, “ certe quidem et innocentes gladiatores in ludum veniunt, ut voluptatis publicæ hostiæ fiant.”—Just. Lips. Saturn. Sermo::., lib. ii. cap. iii.
| Vopiscus. in Vit. Aurel. and in Vit. Claud., ibid.
§ “Credo, immo scio, nullum bellum tantam cladem vastitiemque generi humano intulisse, quam hos ad voluptatem ludos.”— Just. Lips. ibid. lib. i. cap. xii.
the shows in the Flavian amphitheatre before the usual immense concourse of people. Almachius or Telemachus, an eastern monk, who had travelled to Rome intent on his holy purpose, rushed into the midst of the area, and endeavoured to separate the combatants. The prætor Alypius, a person incredibly attached to these games,* gave instant orders to the gladiators to slay him; and Telemachus gained the crown of martyrdom, and the title of saint, which surely has never either before or since been awarded for a more noble exploit. Honorius immediately abolished the shows, which were never afterwards revived. The story is told by Theodorett and Cassiodorus,f and seems worthy of credit notwithstanding its place in the Roman martyrology. Besides the torrents of blood which flowed at the funerals, in the amphitheatres, the circus, the forums, and other public places, gladiators were introduced at feasts, and tore each other to pieces amidst the supper tables, to the great delight and applause of the guests.
Yet Lipsius permits himself to suppose the loss of courage, and the evident degeneracy of mankind, to
* Augustinus (lib. vi. confess. cap. viii.) “ Alypium suum gladiatrii spectaculi inhiatu incredibiliter abreptum,” scribit. ib. lib. i. cap. xii.
+ Hist. Eccles. cap. xxvi. lib. v.
$ Baronius ad ann. et in notis ad Martyrol. Rom. 1. Jan. See Marangoni Delle memorie sacre e profane dell'Anfiteatro Flavio, p. 25, edit. 1746.
be nearly connected with the abolition of these bloody spectacles.*
When one gladiator wounded another he shouted, “ He has it !” “Hoc habet” or “Habet,” the wounded combatant dropped his weapon, and advancing to the edge of the arena, supplicated the spectators. If he had fought well, the people saved him; if otherwise, or as they happened to be inclined, they turned down their thumbs and he was slain. They were occasionally so savage that they were impatient if a combat lasted longer than ordinary without wounds or death. The emperor's presence generally saved the vanquished : and it is recorded as an instance of Caracalla’s ferocity, that he sent those who supplicated him for life, in a spectacle at Nicomedia, to ask the people; in other words, handed them over to be slain. A similar ceremony is observed at the Spanish bull-fights. The magistrate presides; and after the horsemen and piccadores have fought the bull, the matadore steps forward and bows to him for permission to kill the animal. If the bull has done his duty by killing two or three horses, or a man, which last is rare, the people interfere with
* “ Quod ? non tu Lipsi momentum aliquod habuisse censes ad virtutem ? Magnum. Tempora nostra, nosque ipsos videamus. Oppidum ecce unum alterumve captum, direptum est; tumultus circa nos, non in nobis : et tamen concidimus et turbamur. Ubi robur, ubi tot per annos meditata sapientiæ studia ? ubi ille animus qui possit dicere, si fractus illabatur orbis ? ” &c., ibid. lib. ii. cap. xxv. The prototype of Mr. Windham's panegyric on bull-baiting.
shouts, the ladies wave their handkerchiefs, and the animal is saved. The wounds and death of the horses are accompanied with the loudest acclamations, and many gestures of delight, especially from the female portion of the audience, including those of the gentlest blood. Everything depends on habit.
Lord Byron, myself, and one or two other Englishmen, who had certainly in other days borne the sight of a pitched battle, were, during the summer of 1809, in the governor's box at the great amphitheatre of Santa Maria, opposite to Cadiz. The death of one or two hørses completely satisfied their curiosity. A gentleman present, observing us shudder and look pale, noticed that unusual reception of so delightful a sport to some young ladies, who stared and smiled, and continued their applauses as another horse fell bleeding to the ground. One bull killed three horses. He was saved by acclamations which were redoubled when it was known he belonged to a priest.
An Englishman who can be much pleased with seeing two men beat themselves to pieces, cannot bear to look at a horse galloping round an arena with his bowels trailing on the ground, and turns from the spectacle and the spectators with horror and disgust.
JULIUS CÆSAR. It is possible to be a very great man and to be still very inferior to Julius Cæsar, the most complete character, so Lord Bacon thought, of all antiquity. Nature seems incapable of such extraordinary combinations as composed his versatile capacity, which was the wonder even of the Romans themselves. The first generalthe only triumphant politician-inferior to none in eloquence-comparable to any in the attainments of wisdom, in an age made up of some of the greatest commanders, statesmen, orators and philosophers that ever appeared in the world—an author who composed a perfect specimen of military annals in his travelling carriage-at one time in a controversy with Cato, at another writing a treatise on punning, and collecting a set of good sayings—fighting and making love at the same moment,* and willing to abandon both his empire and his mistress for a sight of the Fountains
* Sanguine Thessalicæ cladis perfusus adulter
Lucan. Phar. 10. After feasting with his mistress he sits up all night to converse with the Ægyptian sages, and tells Achoreus,
Spes sit mihi certa videndi Niliacos fontes, bellum civile relinquam. “ Sic velut in tuta securi pace trahebant
Noctis iter medium." Immediately afterwards he is fighting again and defending every position.
“ Sed adest defensor ubique