"The Romans are often characterized as loving violent and cruel entertainment in the amphitheatre. It has been suggested that the games served the dual purpose of providing entertainment for the people and maintaining the political status quo."
In today's society, the killing of humans and animals usually means a jail term, and seeing someone die is not something people go and see for fun. Violence was glorified in Rome hundreds of years ago. All the crimes they committed were condoned, accepted and glorified.
There were four different genres of such entertainment in the games held in amphitheatres (Amphi-theatres are outdoor arenas. "theatres in the round": Amphi- meaning "round" in Greek.) : Gladiatorial combat, the theatrical execution of foreigners, beast shows, as well as chariot racing. Watching someone or a beast kill another was applauded for the method, skill, or artistry used in the slaughter. The games themselves provided ways for Rome to demonstrate the power of their empire, as huge investments of wealth, time, and emotion was put into the games.
Death became a spectator sport with the viewers and the viewed both contributing to a wild and gory performance. Already by the late Republic magistrates were spending huge amounts of money on these games. The Latin word for gladiatorial games is Munus which means obligatory offering. This reflects the origin of these games as funerary offerings to the dead. While magistrates in the Republic may well have put on games to gain popular favour, this was in their private capacity and not as magistrates. Only gradually did the gladiatorial shows come to be assimilated with the games put on by magistrates.
The most popular games were chariot racing, simulated naval battles and fights in the amphitheatres. These fights are shown in their mosaics including gladiator V gladiator, gladiator V...