chapter  III
28 Pages

The Hunts of the Amphitheatre

The spectacle of the poor and the gala of the ruler There was not the same teeming multitude on the tiers for the 'hunts' (venationes) as there was in the afternoons. These spectacles, in fact, which had nothing of the hunt about them save the name, were considered more vulgar than the others and took place in the mornings-'from daybreak' as Suetonius says clearly-at a time when a Roman, either of the elite or the working classes, was busy about his own affairs. But Rome, it seems, had unemployed, idlers and tourists enough to make a good show at the amphitheatre, since at midday it became empty, as we have said. The venatio was a sort of substantial hors d'oeuvre; as a clearly defined spectacle it came into being later than the gladiatorial combats, with which it was almost always associated. It was customary for a munus to be accompanied by a hunt, the object of which, as of the ceremonial parade and the protocol surrounding it, was to enhance its brilliance.