Forms Of Entertainment In Ancient Rome

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Entertainment is important in every society and will at all times play an important role not only to the community but also through the expansion of culture as well as knowledge. In ancient Roman society, however, entertainment played a vigorous role as the Romans lives revolved around the aspect of entertainment alone. Roman entertainment is etched in peoples mind in contemporary society as it has been seen in the recent films. Rome entertainment played an important role in the control of people by the emperor. In the ancient time, Rome was brimming with different forms of entertainment both for the poor and the rich in the society. The Roman government through entertainment kept the idle masses entertained as they were of the idea that the large group of poor individuals threated the empire. The emperor also believed through entertainment the people of Rome would be happy and content with the governing of the city. Romans enjoyed the different forms of entertainment most of them being free.

Ancient Rome is well known for having many theatres that were scattered throughout the city and the empire (Erdkamp, 2013). The theaters were enormous and open-air hence could accommodate a large group of people. Events in the theatre took place throughout the day; however; the poor went to sleep at nightfall as they were unable to keep oil lamps burning. Many of the theaters provided a cultured form of entertainment while the Coliseum was the center for gladiator fights and battle reenactment.

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The Coliseum is one of the most famous buildings in Rome which is attributed to the role it played in ancient entertainment. All the entertainment taking place in the Coliseum and public festivals were arranged by the Aedile who was an elected member of the Senate building could accommodate more than 50,000 spectators as realized in the modern gladiator movie (Dunkle, 2013). Mainly, the Coliseum hosted gladiatorial battles, fight between wild animals and men. Christian executions by lions as well as naval battles; however, most Romans were interested to see peoples fights as they loved vicious shows that were gruesome and gory. The Romans were intrigued by shedding of blood and fighters fighting each other to death or being eaten by savage beasts. The Coliseum had box seats that were meant to be occupied by the powerful and wealthy including the emperor, senators, vestals virgins and knights (Markus, 2013). With the upper levels far from where the fights were taking place being reserved to the commoners. The gladiators were mainly war slaves and criminals who had a death sentence. The gladiators were seen as entertainment that is meant to be killed, and 50% of the fighters were not expected to survive in fights (Dunkle, 2013). Some Romans including women, however, would also volunteer to be gladiators. In today’s society, these fights are viewed as being barbaric and manic; however the ancient society viewed them as a form of entertainment and deemed it as enjoyable.

The spectacle filled wrestling sport largely coincides with the grisly fights in ancient Rome. Great emphasis is put on a wrestler’s personality; the same support of wrestlers in modern society is similar to that of the Roman gladiators (Dunkle, 2013). Wrestling is packed with unusual and varied styles of frightening for instance ladder and cage matches. Martial art emergence, a form of fight allows for reflection, where the two fighters fight against each other, and the winner is declared after the violent fight goes hand in hand with the gladiator experience which greatly compares to the amphitheater fights.

In the theaters, which are still in existence even of today many Romans would flock in thousands to get entertained. The theaters hosted many performances with many of them being religious related to honor the gods. The theaters would play farces, tragedies, comedies as well as pantomimes (Duckworth, 2015). The theaters were often noisy as the spectators would chat as they watch the performances. All the characters in the Roman plays were done by males slaves which including women roles.

The Romans loved chariot racing which was considered a family event. The chariot racing took place in special racetracks known as circuses. The roman chariots were ultra-lightweight and flimsy with just enough room for a man to stand on and hold the reins. Circus Maximus was the most famous circus in Rome (Kyle, 2012). In the races, two, three and four horse-driven chariots ran seven laps in the circus accounting to about three to five miles. In the Roman entertainment, other types of equestrian events were also present for instance one type of a race involving the riding of a horse at the beginning of the competition, and later the rider would dismount and run on foot to the finish (Kyle, 2012). Rome had eight main stadiums for chariot races. In case of a crash during the race the chariot, on many instances would be pulverized leading to the infliction of bad injuries on the charioteer who would later be ejected from the chariot. Violent entertainment in ancient roman played an important role in the social structure of society.

In modern society, chariot racing can be compared to NASCAR or automotive racing. The violent tenancies experienced in the crashes during the races being of great appeal to a certain demographic in the countries like the US. While various varying games and sports coincide in similarities, NASCAR fully embodies the spirit of the ancient Roman races. NASCAR has which occur in large stadiums has a huge following of about 200,000 individuals who fill out the stadiums just to catch a glimpse of the race. NASCAR race entails massive damage, and one cannot miss several wreckages of vehicles throughout the race (Jewell, 2011). This was similar to ancient Rome as many of the races led to the death of several race participants. This may seem uncouth and brutal in the contemporary society however the society is not that different from the ancient Romans as deaths occur every year by horse and NASCAR, and many do not find this to be unsuitable as millions of audiences’ flocks to the stadiums to catch the events live as they are happening.

The Roman baths were other major forms of entertainment in ancient Rome. The baths were large complexes which would cover up to 32 acres (Kyle, 2012). The building with the baths would be central to the Roman towns, and the surrounding would be composed of conveniences such as shops, libraries as well as slave markets. The Romans would go to the thermae almost every day after working hours from around 3 to 4 o’clock and would spend several hours socializing with other people (Kyle, 2012). Most of the baths were equipped with plunge pools, where the people enjoyed swimming. Swimming was mainly a boy’s form of entertainment; however, there were some accounts of women who knew how to swim in the ancient times.

The campus which resembled a large playground which had a field and tracks was another area where the Romans sought out their entertainment. People went to the campus to take part in sports including running, wrestling, boxing as well as fencing (Hastings & Burnett, 2016). Other sports in the campus involved the throwing of a ball as far as possible and catching it before it got to the ground. After several hours of exercise on the campus, the Romans would retreat to the Tiber River or the thermae to relax and wash.

Board games were also a common form of entertainment in ancient Rome. The board games were played on portable boards called ‘tabulae lusorie’ mostly made from wood, and precious stones could be added for more precious results (Kyle, 2012). The boards were also carved on the floors of major public places; hence the game could be played anywhere. The board games were a common source of entertainment for the soldiers as they played the game to pass the time.

The ancient Roman perception towards entertainment and games was quite moralistic. Their existed social guidelines and rules as to what could be accepted from people of various social orientations; however when push came to pass such restrictions softened with time (Toner, 2013). A particularly memorable moment was reached in the time of Emperor Nero through the cases of female and upper-class patricians and senator’s involvement in sports, public games, as well as leisure, took place both before his reign as well as after (Toner, 2013).

To contemporary Romans, ancient Roman entertainment is seen as a cruel affair; however not all entertainment forms involved violence. Many educated ancient Romans felt appalled at the cruelty of the events and instead they sought out entertainments in other theatres to enjoy comedies and poetry readings (Duckworth, 2015).

Both the rich and the poor enjoyed watching the violent fights as a form of entertainment however the high-class citizens and the authority used the events as a way of invoking fear into the citizens (Toner, 2013). Fear that was created in the events was an effective way of maintaining social order in Rome. The lower citizens attended the shows to feel some worth in the society they were dwelling in. The lower class citizens also felt safe and secure knowing that although they were not among the top class in the Rome social ladder at least, they were above the ones taking part in the entertainment arena as most of them ended up dying.

Throughout history entertainment through violent affairs has played an important role in society. The violent activities were seen as a source of fun and celebration as well as a means of despair that led to the suffering of many people. Many people would converge to watch the violent entertainment provided by the elite Romans. In contemporary society, there are various forms of entertainment that are violent similar to those seen in Rome; however; they have a distinction from the Romans entrainments (Hastings & Burnett, 2016). Contemporary society characterizes ancient entertainment as a bloodthirsty and brutal due to the savage nature of the activities. However, ancient Rome entertainment was used for the purpose of maintaining social control and demonstrating the power of the nation and the government.

The modern day society does not fall far apart from the ancient society in regards to the society’s desire to be entertained through second-hand pain, violence as well as embarrassment. The contemporary society is also in constant crave of published forms of entertainment. The violent entertainment is present in the media, including television shows, news broadcastings as well as social media. Although people in the modern society do not attend or crowd in arenas to watch people fight to the death, the same ideals that underlined those of the ancient Rome many years back are still evident in the contemporary society. For instance violence still plays a somewhat significant role in the modern day lives only that the way that contemporary society engages in these violent affairs has transformed. The violence is not experienced firsthand as the Romans did. However, the society still dwells in its shadows. This is experienced with many individuals being intrigued by the sports highlights that talk about hardest hits or athlete’s injuries. People also love the thrill they get from watching scary movies that involve death and violent activities. In modern society, almost every movie that is not intended for underage children has violence, and it deemed acceptable just as the Romans did with their entertainment for the masses (Hastings & Burnett, 2016). Football is another game that attracts multitude who converge in large stadiums to watch build up men take each other over a ball. The sport is as much violent as those fights experienced in the ancient Rome

Entertainment is important to contemporary society just like it was in ancient Rome. Entertainment helps individuals cope with their daily challenges as it offers a chance of healing through laughter. Entertainment is therefore important when times are tough as people get a chance to forget their troubles at least for some time. In modern society, there are very many forms of entertainment including, movies, music, television, sporting events which all take people to a happy place allowing them to be carefree at least even for a short time.

In conclusion, the entertainment in the ancient Roman was a gruesome and gory affair. Ancient Romans loved the gory and the violent, bloody fights to the death. The events in ancient Rome were a structural formation of society and how society could come together. In contemporary society, some things have not changed even with civilization, where people love violent entertainment however to an extent. Throughout the ancient entertainment spectrum, the Romans praised violence, historical interpretations and the carefree forms of entertainment. This is reflected in modern society as many people flock in millions in stadiums and the televisions to watch their favorite athletes and teams, and in movies with a huge depiction of violence and comedic situations.


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