Bonnie and Clyde and how they met their end….
Bonnie and Clyde and how they met their end….
In the stands, tens of thousands of Roman citizens waited with half-bored curiosity to see what would happen next and whether it would be interesting enough to keep them in their seats until the next part of the “big show” began.
With a flourish, trapdoors in the floor of the arena were opened, and lions, bears, wild boars and leopards rushed into the arena. The starved animals bounded toward the terrified criminals, who attempted to leap away from the beasts’ snapping jaws. But as one helpless man flung himself upward and out of harm’s way, his partner on the other side of the seesaw was sent crashing down into the seething mass of claws, teeth and fur.
The crowd of Romans began to laugh at the dark antics before them. Soon, they were clapping and yelling, placing bets on which criminal would die first, which one would last longest and which one would ultimately be chosen by the largest lion, who was still prowling the outskirts of the arena’s pure white sand.
And with that, another “halftime show” of damnatio ad bestias succeeded in serving its purpose: to keep the jaded Roman population glued to their seats, to the delight of the event’s scheming organizer.
Welcome to the show
The Roman Games were the Super Bowl Sundays of their time. They gave their ever-changing sponsors and organizers (known as editors) an enormously powerful platform to promote their views and philosophies to the widest spectrum of Romans. All of Rome came to the Games: rich and poor, men and women, children and the noble elite alike. They were all eager to witness the unique spectacles each new game promised its audience.
To the editors, the Games represented power, money and opportunity. Politicians and aspiring noblemen spent unthinkable sums on the Games they sponsored in the hopes of swaying public opinion in their favor, courting votes, and/or disposing of any person or warring faction they wanted out of the way.
The more extreme and fantastic the spectacles, the more popular the Games with the general public, and the more popular the Games, the more influence the editor could have. Because the Games could make or break the reputation of their organizers, editors planned every last detail meticulously.
Thanks to films like “Ben-Hur” and “Gladiator,” the two most popular elements of the Roman Games are well known even to this day: the chariot races and the gladiator fights. Other elements of the Roman Games have also translated into modern times without much change: theatrical plays put on by costumed actors, concerts with trained musicians, and parades of much-cared-for exotic animals from the city’s private zoos.
But much less discussed, and indeed largely forgotten, is the spectacle that kept the Roman audiences in their seats through the sweltering midafternoon heat: the blood-spattered halftime show known as damnatio ad bestias — literally “condemnation by beasts” — orchestrated by men known as the bestiarii.
Super Bowl 242 B.C: How the Games Became So Brutal
The cultural juggernaut known as the Roman Games began in 242 B.C., when two sons decided to celebrate their father’s life by ordering slaves to battle each other to the death at his funeral. This new variation of ancient munera (a tribute to the dead) struck a chord within the developing republic. Soon, other members of the wealthy classes began to incorporate this type of slave fighting into their own munera. The practice evolved over time — with new formats, rules, specialized weapons, etc. — until the Roman Games as we now know them were born.
In 189 B.C., a consul named M. Fulvius Nobilior decided to do something different. In addition to the gladiator duels that had become common, he introduced an animal act that would see humans fight both lions and panthers to the death. Big-game hunting was not a part of Roman culture; Romans only attacked large animals to protect themselves, their families or their crops. Nobilior realized that the spectacle of animals fighting humans would add a cheap and unique flourish to this fantastic new pastime. Nobilior aimed to make an impression, and he succeeded.
With the birth of the first “animal program,” an uneasy milestone was achieved in the evolution of the Roman Games: the point at which a human being faced a snarling pack of starved beasts, and every laughing spectator in the crowd chanted for the big cats to win, the point at which the republic’s obligation to make a man’s death a fair or honorable one began to be outweighed by the entertainment value of watching him die.
Twenty-two years later, in 167 B.C., Aemlilus Paullus would give Rome its first damnatio ad bestias when he rounded up army deserters and had them crushed, one by one, under the heavy feet of elephants. “The act was done publicly,” historian Alison Futrell noted in her book “Blood in the Arena,” “a harsh object lesson for those challenging Roman authority.”
The “satisfaction and relief” Romans would feel watching someone considered lower than themselves be thrown to the beasts would become, as historian Garrett G. Fagan noted in his book “The Lure of the Arena,” a “central … facet of the experience [of the Roman Games. … a feeling of shared empowerment and validation … ” In those moments, Rome began the transition into the self-indulgent decadence that would come to define all that we associate with the great society’s demise.
The Role of Julius Caesar
General Julius Caesar proved to be the first true maestro of the Games. He understood how these events could be manipulated to inspire fear, loyalty and patriotism, and began to stage the Games in new and ingenious ways. For example, Caesar was the first to arrange fights between recently captured armies, gaining firsthand knowledge of the fighting techniques used by these conquered people and providing him with powerful insights to aid future Roman conquests, all the while demonstrating the republic’s own superiority to the roaring crowd of Romans. After all, what other city was powerful enough to command foreign armies to fight each other to the death, solely for their viewing pleasure?
Caesar used exotic animals from newly conquered territories to educate Romans about the empire’s expansion. In one of his games, “Animals for Show and Pleasure in Ancient Rome” author George Jennison notes that Caesar orchestrated “a hunt of four hundred lions, fights between elephants and infantry … [and] bull fighting by mounted Thessalians.” Later, the first-ever giraffes seen in Rome arrived — a gift to Caesar himself from a love-struck Cleopatra.
To execute his very specific visions, Caesar relied heavily on the bestiarii — men who were paid to house, manage, breed, train and sometimes fight the bizarre menagerie of animals collected for the Games.
Managing and training this ever-changing influx of beasts was not an easy task for the bestiarii. Wild animals are born with a natural hesitancy, and without training, they would usually cower and hide when forced into the arena’s center. For example, it is not a natural instinct for a lion to attack and eat a human being, let alone to do so in front of a crowd of 100,000 screaming Roman men, women and children! And yet, in Rome’s ever-more-violent culture, disappointing an editor would spell certain death for the low-rankingbestiarii.
To avoid being executed themselves, bestiarii met the challenge. They developed detailed training regimens to ensure their animals would act as requested, feeding arena-born animals a diet compromised solely of human flesh, breeding their best animals, and allowing their weaker and smaller stock to be killed in the arena. Bestiarii even went so far as to instruct condemned men and women on how to behave in the ring to guarantee a quick death for themselves — and a better show. The bestiarii could leave nothing to chance.
As their reputations grew, bestiarii were given the power to independently devise new and even more audacious spectacles for the ludi meridiani(midday executions). And by the time the Roman Games had grown popular enough to fill 250,000-seat arenas, the work of the bestiarii had become a twisted art form.
As the Roman Empire grew, so did the ambition and arrogance of its leaders. And the more arrogant, egotistic and unhinged the leader in power, the more spectacular the Games would become. Who better than thebestiarii to aid these despots in taking their version of the Roman Games to new, ever-more grotesque heights?
Caligula Amplified the Cruelty
Animal spectacles became bigger, more elaborate, and more flamboyantly cruel. Damnatio ad bestias became the preferred method of executing criminals and enemies alike. So important where the bestiarii’s contribution, that when butcher meat became prohibitively expensive, Emperor Caligula ordered that all of Rome’s prisoners “be devoured” by the bestiarii‘s packs of starving animals. In his masterwork De Vita Caesarum, Roman historian Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (b. 69 A.D.) tells of how Caligula sentenced the men to death “without examining the charges” to see if death was a fitting punishment, but rather by “merely taking his place in the middle of a colonnade, he bade them be led away ‘from baldhead to baldhead,'”(It should also be noted that Caligula used the funds originally earmarked for feeding the animals and the prisoners to construct temples he was building in his own honor!)
To meet this ever-growing pressure to keep the Roman crowds happy and engaged by bloodshed, bestiarii were forced to consistently invent new ways to kill. They devised elaborate contraptions and platforms to give prisoners the illusion they could save themselves — only to have the structures collapse at the worst possible moments, dropping the condemned into a waiting pack of starved animals. Prisoners were tied to boxes, lashed to stakes, wheeled out on dollies and nailed to crosses, and then, prior to the animals’ release, the action was paused so that bets could be made in the crowd about which of the helpless men would be devoured first.
Perhaps most popular — as well as the most difficult to pull off — were there-creations of death scenes from famous myths and legends. A singlebestiarius might spend months training an eagle in the art of removing a thrashing man’s organs (a la the myth of Prometheus).
The halftime show of damnatio ad bestias became so notorious that it was common for prisoners to attempt suicide to avoid facing the horrors they knew awaited them. Roman philosopher and statesmen Seneca recorded a story of a German prisoner who, rather than be killed in a bestiarius’ show, killed himself by forcing a communally used prison lavatory sponge down his throat. One prisoner who refused to walk into the arena was placed on a cart and wheeled in; the prisoner thrust his own head between the spokes of its wheels, preferring to break his own neck than to face whatever horrors the bestiarius had planned for him.
It is in this era that Rome saw the rise of its most famous bestiarius, Carpophorus, “The King of the Beasts.”
The Rise of a Beast Master
Carpophorus was celebrated not only for training the animals that were set upon the enemies, criminals and Christians of Rome, but also for famously taking to the center of the arena to battle the most fearsome creatures himself.
He triumphed in one match that pitted him against a bear, a lion and a leopard, all of which were released to attack him at once. Another time, he killed 20 separate animals in one battle, using only his bare hands as weapons. His power over animals was so unmatched that the poet Martial wrote odes to Carpophorus.
“If the ages of old, Caesar, in which a barbarous earth brought forth wild monsters, had produced Carpophorus,” he wrote in his best known work, Epigrams. “Marathon would not have feared her bull, nor leafy Nemea her lion, nor Arcadians the boar of Maenalus. When he armed his hands, the Hydra would have met a single death; one stroke of his would have sufficed for the entire Chimaera. He could yoke the fire-bearing bulls without the Colchian; he could conquer both the beasts of Pasiphae. If the ancient tale of the sea monster were recalled, he would release Hesione and Andromeda single-handed. Let the glory of Hercules’ achievement be numbered: it is more to have subdued twice ten wild beasts at one time.”
To have his work compared so fawningly to battles with some of Rome’s most notorious mythological beast sheds some light on the astounding work Carpophorus was doing within the arena, but he gained fame as well for his animal work behind the scenes. Perhaps most shockingly, it was said that he was among the few bestiarii who could command animals to rape human beings, including bulls, zebras, stallions, wild boars and giraffes, among others. This crowd-pleasing trick allowed his editors to create ludi meridianithat could not only combine sex and death but also claim to be honoring the god Zeus. After all, in Roman mythology, Zeus took many animal forms to have his way with human women.
Historians still debate how common of an occurrence public bestiality was at the Roman Games — and especially whether forced bestiality was used as a form of execution — but poets and artists of the time wrote and painted about the spectacle with a shocked awe.
“Believe that Pasiphae coupled with the Dictaean bull!” Martial wrote. “We’ve seen it! The Ancient Myth has been confirmed! Hoary antiquity, Caesar, should not marvel at itself: whatever Fame sings of, the arenapresents to you.”
The ‘Gladiator’ Commodus
The Roman Games and the work of the bestiarii may have reached their apex during the reign of Emperor Commodus, which began in 180 AD. By that time, the relationship between the emperors and the Senate had disintegrated to a point of near-complete dysfunction. The wealthy, powerful and spoiled emperors began acting out in such debauched and deluded ways that even the working class “plebs” of Rome were unnerved. But even in this heightened environment, Commodus served as an extreme.
Having little interest in running the empire, he left most of the day-to-day decisions to a prefect, while Commodus himself indulged in living a very public life of debauchery. His harem contained 300 girls and 300 boys (some of whom it was said had so bewitched the emperor as he passed them on the street that he felt compelled to order their kidnapping). But if there was one thing that commanded Commodus’ obsession above all else, it was the Roman Games. He didn’t just want to put on the greatest Games in the history of Rome; he wanted to be the star of them, too.
Commodus began to fight as a gladiator. Sometimes, he arrived dressed in lion pelts, to evoke Roman hero Hercules; other times, he entered the ringabsolutely naked to fight his opponents. To ensure a victory, Commodus only fought amputees and wounded soldiers (all of whom were given only flimsy wooden weapons to defend themselves). In one dramatic case recorded in Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Commodus ordered that all people missing their feet be gathered from the Roman streets and be brought to the arena, where he commanded that they be tethered together in the rough shape of a human body. Commodus then entered the arena’s center ring, and clubbed the entire group to death, before announcing proudly that he had killed a giant.
But being a gladiator wasn’t enough for him. Commodus wanted to rule the halftime show as well, so he set about creating a spectacle that would feature him as a great bestiarius. He not only killed numerous animals — including lions, elephants, ostriches and giraffes, among others, all of which had to be tethered or injured to ensure the emperor’s success — but also killed bestiarii whom he felt were rivals (including Julius Alexander, a bestiarius who had grown beloved in Rome for his ability to kill an untethered lion with a javelin from horseback). Commodus once made all of Rome sit and watch in the blazing midday sun as he killed 100 bears in a row — and then made the city pay him 1 millions esterces (ancient Roman coins) for the (unsolicited) favor.
By the time Commodus demanded the city of Rome be renamed Colonia Commodiana (“City of Commodus”) — Scriptores Historiae Augustae, noted that not only did the Senate “pass this resolution, but … at the same time [gave] Commodus the name Hercules, and [called] him a god” — a conspiracy was already afoot to kill the mad leader. A motley crew of assassins — including his court chamberlain, Commodus’ favorite concubine, and “an athlete called Narcissus, who was employed as Commodus’ wrestling partner” — joined forces to kill him and end his unhinged reign. His death was supposed to restore balance and rationality to Rome — but it didn’t. By then, Rome was broken — bloody, chaotic and unable to stop its death spiral.
In an ultimate irony, reformers who stood up to oppose the culture’s violent and debauched disorder were often punished by death at the hands of thebestiarii, their deaths cheered on by the very same Romans whom they were trying to protect and save from destruction.
The Death of the Games and the Rise of Christianity
As the Roman Empire declined, so did the size, scope and brutality of its Games. However, it seems fitting that one of the most powerful seeds of the empire’s downfall could be found within its ultimate sign of contempt and power — the halftime show of damnatio ad bestias.
Early Christians were among the most popular victims in ludi meridiani. The emperors who condemned these men, women and children to public death by beasts did so with the obvious hope that the spectacle would be so horrifying and humiliating that it would discourage any other Romans from converting to Christianity.
Little did they realize that the tales of brave Christians facing certain death with grace, power and humility made them some of the earliest martyr stories. Nor could they have imagined that these oft-repeated narratives would then serve as invaluable tools to drive more people toward the Christian faith for centuries to come.
In the end, who could have ever imagined that these near-forgotten “halftime shows” might prove to have a more lasting impact on the world than the gladiators and chariot races that had overshadowed the bestiarii for their entire existence?
By Cristin O’keefe Aptowicz…
Here’s a thought to warm some of your hearts….
From: Ed Chenel, A police officer in Australia
Hi Yanks, I thought you all would like to see the real
figures from Down Under.
It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by a new law to
surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by our own
government, a program costing Australia taxpayers
more than $500 million dollars.
The first year results are now in:
Australia-wide, homicides are up 6.2 percent,
Australia-wide, assaults are up 9.6 percent;
Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes, 44 percent)!
In the state of Victoria…..
lone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent.(Note that
while the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the criminals did not
and criminals still possess their guns!)
While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady
decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12 months, since the criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed.There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins andassaults of the elderly, while the resident is at home.
Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public
safety has decreased, after such monumental effort and expense was expended in ‘successfully ridding Australian society of guns….’ You won’t see this on the American evening news or hear your governor or members of the State Assembly disseminating this information.
The Australian experience speaks for itself. Guns in the
hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws affect only the law-abiding citizens.
Take note Americans, before it’s too late!
Will you be one of the sheep to turn yours in?
WHY? You will need it.
FORWARD TO EVERYONE ON YOUR EMAIL LIST.
DON’T BE A MEMBER OF THE SILENT MAJORITY.
BE ONE OF THE VOCAL MINORITY WHO WON ‘T STAND FOR NONSENSE
AUSTRALIA: MORE VIOLENT CRIME DESPITE GUN BAN
Elkins shot the infant in the face after the mother refused to give him money.
He also shot the mother in the leg and the neck in Brunswick , GA.
De’Marquis Elkins is not a member of the NRA.
He did not use an assault rifle.
He did not get his stolen pistol from a gun show.
His favorite music is rap.
He did not attend Christian school, nor was he home schooled.
He did attend multicultural public education,
and was not instructed in the Ten Commandments.
His Momma was on welfare, got food stamps, and lived in public housing.
His daddy was not around, and his two brothers have a different daddy.
He already has a record for violent crimes.
He is gang member.
His mom, grandma, and Aunty all voted for Obama.
He never earned his hunter safety card, nor did he shoot CMP,
Junior NRA, or 4H Air Rifle Competitions.
He was never instructed in gun safety from his father or grandfather.
His public education and family taught him that the white man owes him something.
He went to collect it.
He has no plans on getting married, but does have a Baby Momma, and no,
he is not supporting her baby.
He smokes dope.
He does respect Kayne West.
While he has no job, nor is looking for one, he is well fed.
He has no skills outside of crime.
He speaks Ebonics, and is not capable of doing a professional
interview, even though he spent 11 years in public education.
He is one of millions.
This is what we are up against. Make no mistake that people like
Elkins will have their guns. There are people wanting to deny
you the right to arm yourself. Your tax dollars are paying for
the continuation of a system that breeds pieces of shit like this one.
During the period of reconstruction scores of protective secret organizations were formed by the white men of the South. These ranged “from small bodies of neighborhood police, which were common in 1865 and 1866, to great federated orders like the White Camelia, covering the entire South and even extending into the North and West. The largest and best known was the Ku Klux Klan, or the Invisible Empire.
The Ku Klux Klan was organized by some young men of Pulaski, Tennessee. Originally it seems to have been partly an expression of the gregarious instincts of youth. In addition, these young ex-Confederate soldiers… soon found that terrorizing the criminal element among the negroes, by means of mysterious costumes and nightly maneuvers, furnished both fun for themselves and protection to life, property and the home. It is impossible to determine what relative part these desires played in the original organization, but it is sure that in a very short time protection became the great object of these watchers of the night. Their success led to similar protective orders throughout the whole South, and they soon united under the name of “The Invisible Empire.”
It was indeed an invisible empire. Initiations were not mere useless horse-play, as in some societies of the present time, but were designed to test thoroughly the mettle of the initiate, and one who passed through them possessed bravery at least. The Ku Klux Klan at first performed much the services of the slave-patrol of ante-bellum days. Mr. Gardner, in “Reconstruction in Mississippi,” says, “The nocturnal perambulations of the freedmen, their habits of running away from labor contracts, the large amount of petit larceny among them at the time, the abandonment of crops to attend political meetings, their participation in the Loyal [Union] Leagues, and their alleged insolence to their former masters created a necessity for some kind of restraints, as the whites believed. The Ku Klux Klan organization (in Mississippi) was designed to accomplish this purpose.”
That the first operations of the Ku Klux Klan were a blessing seems to be admitted by most northern historians. The Radical leaders became more moderate, burnings, a weapon of the Loyal [Union] League, stopped, negroes were frightened into good behavior, women were protected, and civilized forms of society reappeared.
In many sections the activities of the Ku Klux Klan consisted only of innocent pranks to frighten the negroes into obedience, and such sections soon fell into the hands of the whites. In the black districts, however, with the coming of Carpetbag rule, and the consequent social disorders, more strenuous measures were adopted. When other methods failed, whipping and even the death penalty were resorted to as preventatives of arson and the ravishing of women. These punishments were decreed and carried out in a formal and dignified manner in conformity with the strict discipline of the Ku Klux Klan leaders.
The members of this order were thus self-constituted committees of safety, such as always appear sooner or later in a lawless, disorganized society. Like organizations served to restore order in many western mining towns during a rule of anarchy. This fact must be kept constantly in mind—in many sections of the South there was no other protection to life, property or virtue. The more serious penalties imposed by the order would never have been resorted to by the intelligent men of the South had the courts been open to them, or had even a semblance of justice and civilization been maintained. And the Ku Klux Klan was composed of the bravest and best men of the South, much as this has been denied by well-meaning northern apologists.
Anarchy reigned supreme, and the Ku Klux Klans merely resorted to the first law of nature, self-preservation. The ethics of social progress demand that, at such a time, the intelligent and safe elements of society band together to restore law and order. The means to be used must be commensurate with the disorders threatening, and the Ku Klux Klans stayed within the limitations of this rule.”
Source: Secret Political Societies in the South during the Period of Reconstruction, An Address given before the Faculty and Friends of Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, by Walter Henry Cook given on Founders’ day, January 16, 1913
Supporters and opponents alike of gun control will point to this fact in the coming days: Connecticut already has some of the toughest restrictions on gun laws in the United States.
“In general, the laws here are pretty strict, and they’re working,” said Bob Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen. “But I don’t know of any law that would prevent someone like at Columbine or at Aurora or here in Connecticut from committing these offenses which are clearly psychologically based.”
In 2011, Connecticut was rated the fifth toughest by the pro-gun control Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence on a scorecard which gave points for each restriction the group favors.
To buy a gun, Connecticut law requires residents apply for a local permit, typically with the town’s police chief, have their fingerprints taken and submit to a state and federal background check with a 14-day waiting period. To buy a handgun, residents also are required to take a gun safety course.The state is also one of seven to have an assault weapons ban that specifically lists more than 35 semiautomatic and automatic weapons.
“We have some of the strongest gun laws in the country, but guns don’t respect boundaries any more than criminals do,”
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