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He, their sire,
Stanza cxli. lines 6 and 7. Gladiators were of two kinds, compelled and voluntary; and were supplied from several conditions ; from slaves sold for that purpose; from culprits ; from barbarian captives either taken in war, and, after being led in triumph, set apart for the games, or those seized and condemned as rebels ; also from free citizens, some fighting for hire (auctorati), others from a depraved 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.3 No war, says Lipsius, 4 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
1 Julius Cæsar, who rose by the fall of the aristocracy, brought Furius Leptinus and A. Calenus upon the arena.
* Tertullian," certe quidem et innocentes gladiatores in ludum veniunt, at voluptatis publicæ hostiæ fiant.” Just. Lips. Saturn. Sermon. lib. i. cap. iii.
3 Vopiscus. in vit. Aurel. and, in vit. Claud. ibid.
4 "Credo imò scio nullum bellum tantam cladem vastitiemque generi humano intulisse, quam hos ad voluptatem ludos.” Just. Lips. ibid. lib. i.
extinction to the courage of a Christian. In the year 404, on the kalends of January, they were exhibiting 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 Theodoret e and Cassiodorus, 3 and seems worthy of credit notwithstanding its place in the Roman martyrology.4 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 be nearly connected with the abolition of these bloody spectacles."
Augustinus, (lib. vi. confess. cap. viii.) “ Alypium suum gladiatrii spectaculi inhiatu incredibiliter abreptum,” scribit. ib. lib. i. cap.
xii. 2 Hist. Eccles. cap. xxvi. lib. v. 3 Cassiod. Tripartita. I. X. C. xi. Saturn, ib. ib.
4 Baronius. ad. ann. et in notis ad Martyrul. Rom. 1. Jan. See_Marangoni delle memorie sacre e profane dell'Anfiteatro Flavio, p. 25. edit. 1746.
5“ 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.
Stanza cxlii. lines 5 and 6. 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 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. Every thing depends on habit. The author of Childe Harold, the writer of this note, and one or two other Englishmen, who have 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 horses completely satisfied their curiosity. A gentleman present, observing them 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 off his own horns. 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.
Stanza cxliv. line 6. Suetonius informs us that Julius Cæsar was particularly gratified by that decree of the senate, which enabled him to wear a wreath of laurel on all occasions. He was anxious, not to show that he was the conqueror of the world, but to hide that he was bald. A stranger at Rome would hardly have guessed at the motive, nor should we without the help of the historian.
Stanza cxlv. line 1.
This is quoted in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; and a notice on the Coliseum may be seen in the Historical Illustrations to the IVth Canto of Childe Harold.
Stanza cxlvi. line 3. Though plundered of all its brass, except the ring which was necessary to preserve the aperture above; though exposed to repeated fires, though sometimes flooded by the river, and always open to the rain, no monument of equal antiquity is so well preserved as this rotundo. It passed with little alteration from the Pagan into the present worship; and so convenient were its niches for the Christian altar, that Michael Angelo, ever studious of ancient beauty, introduced their design as a model in the Catholic church.”
Forsyth’s Remarks, &c. on Italy, p. 137. sec. edit.
65. And they who feel for genius may repose Their eyes on honour'd forms, whose busts around them close.
Stanza cxlvii. lines 8 and 9. The Pantheon has been made a receptacle for the busts of modern great, or, at least, distinguished, men. The flood of light which once fell through the large orb above on the whole circle of divinities, now shines on a numerous assemblage of mortals, some one or two of whom have been almost deified by the veneration of their countrymen.
Stanza cxlviii. line 1.