Ve­na­tio

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - CLASSIFIEDS -

Latin for ‘‘the hunt’’, this game was played in Rome in the first cen­tury AD where slaves would have to hunt and slay wild an­i­mals be­fore they were slain them­selves.

Hunts were held in the morn­ing prior to the af­ter­noon main event of glad­i­a­to­rial duels.

Of­ten us­ing only spears, the gla­di­a­tor-like slaves would roam around the coli­seum or other are­nas un­til they found their tar­get, or it found them.

The Ro­mans would com­monly use up to 20 ele­phants against one com­peti­tor or mul­ti­ple li­ons and then have them fight un­til the death.

Even­tu­ally, the Ro­mans be­came so fas­ci­nated by this sport that over 9000 an­i­mals were killed in the coli­seum alone and more of­ten than not the slaves would share the same fate as the beasts.

Once the game spread to other re­gions of Europe and Africa, the North African ele­phants were un­for­tu­nately driven to ex­tinc­tion and other wild beasts such as ostriches and leop­ards had to be used in their place.

Fol­low­ing the ve­na­tio in the or­der of daily events were the ex­e­cu­tion of con­victed Ro­man cit­i­zens of lower sta­tus, the hu­mil­iores. Usual forms of ex­e­cu­tion in­cluded burn­ing at the stake, cru­ci­fix­ion, or ad bes­tias (when the pris­oner is left alone in the ring with one or more wild an­i­mals).

Need­less to say, with only a 2 per cent sur­vival rate, you wouldn’t want to be a Ro­man slave at the time of this lethal an­cient sport!

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