'The Roman games were cruel and degrading and cannot be justified.' How far do you agree with this opinion?

Essay by DizzyButHappyUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, May 2004

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There is no doubt that cultural and social understanding was very limited in the era of the Romans. Ethics, animal rights and punishment had not been developed strongly enough to make assertive judgements about the games that provided so much entertainment for the bloodthirsty society. I believe that the Roman games were cruel and degrading, but the communities at the time accepted them as amusement, encouraging solidarity amongst the masses. Before the Colosseum was built the games took part in arenas surrounded by muddy banks or by spectators sitting on wooden piers enveloping the performance area, so it is evident they were happening over a number of centuries.

One aspect of the Roman games was the introduction of animals into the arena. In order to do this the animals had to be captured on hunts, often using nets with which to trap them and beaters with torches to literally 'beat' them into their cages.

But the fact is, many of the animals died in transportation or whilst they were being held in anticipation. Apuleius (born c. 125 CE) voiced this in The robbers' tale (unit 5, Resource Book 1, p 95), as 'the bears' were attacked by a 'sudden epidemic' and 'their numbers reduced to almost nothing'. Life, be it human or animal, is therefore reduced to a worthless state. Perhaps, even the Roman citizens thought that this was cruel as Cicero said in his Letters to his Friends (Unit 5, Resource Book, p. 97) that the treatment of the herd of elephants brought 'pity' from the crowd. The spectators' reactions were 'a feeling that this animal had something in common with the human race'. When we couple the amount of animals that have been killed whilst in the arena with those who died it amounts to a...