Rollout of the show
The Military Pompa
Preceding the Emperor’s entrance, the pompa is a march-past to present troops: Roman troops, auxiliaries (dressed as Roman legionnaires fighting with the Emperor), Gauls and mercenaries serving the Emperor.
Venatio and Damnatio ad Bestias
In Ancient Rome, animal hunting shows with condemnation to wild beasts took place in the amphitheatre in the morning and at lunchtime. In the morning, professional hunters, specialising in fighting wild animals would enter the arena to fight these beasts. Lunchtime was devoted to putting to death thieves, brigands or rebellious slaves sentenced under common law. Among the many types of execution, some were delivered up to wild beasts. Contrary to normal belief, the people sentenced to death were not necessarily “thrown to the lions”. Since exotic beasts were very costly, Gallo-Romans tended to use the dangerous animals then roaming their forests.
There will be two demonstrations at the Great Roman Games:
- the venator: a professional hunter fights a bear while chained to the animal.
- Noxius or Damnatius Ad Bestias: a condemned prisoner is thrown to the wolves.
The munus – gladiator fights
Gladiator fights of took place in the afternoon. They were staged by a city politician in order to obtain the much-prized favour of the people. This was the height of popularity of "ludi", the "Roman Games". Just imagine the fervour of the public for these fighters. There were veritable "stars", trained in combat since their youth. Spectators would bet on their favourite gladiator and there were even teams of "supporters", ready to battle it out on the terraces in support of their favourites. Don’t hesitate to express your feelings and wave your mappa (cloth) to ask for pardon. To demand the death of the loser, don’t give a thumbs-down sign (this practice never existed), simply shout out "lugula" which means "kill him".
These Great Roman Games will see fights between:
- Thracians and Mirmillones,
- Retarii and Secutores,
- Equites, the gladiators on horseback.
The Exercicium: the siege of Alesia
The Emperor took care with the training of his soldiers, often making them perform exercises in his presence. For these Great Roman Games, Hadrian uses his troops and mercenaries today to pay tribute to his divine ancestor, Julius Caesar in a historic dramatization. He proposes a re-enactment of the last episode in the Gallic War, the Battle of Alesia to the people of Nemausus.
> Arrival of Vercingetorix in Alesia. Gallic horseback exercises: acrobatics and exercises in skill. The Gallic riders will demonstrate their skill and dexterity before their leader, Vercingetorix.
> Re-enactment of the Battle of Alesia: the Gauls have taken refuge in their fortress –they are surrounded and besieged by the Romans. Vercingetorix is waiting for the arrival of the cavalry and backup army to take the Romans from the rear...
> The surrender of Vercingetorix: the Gauls lay down arms and are taken to Rome.
> The Triumph of Caesar and flight of the Imperial Eagles: we are in Rome in 46 BC, Julius Caesar is heading a procession to celebrate the fourfold triumph over the Gauls, Africa, the Bridge, Egypt and Palestine. This triumph is above all a religious ceremony marking the victory of the Romans with the support of Jupiter and the return of the soldiers to civil life. Vercingetorix has been removed from the Tullibanum, a vile dungeon located at the foot of the Capitol where he has been festering for six long years. He is exhibited behind the triumphant victor’s chariot to the cheers of the people of Rome.
© M. Fasol
© M. Fasol
Capture of a Picts
The foot gladiators
The foot gladiators
© Ars Maiorum