"he was squeamish about pain and death, even when inflicted on animals, and for that reason tried to avoid attending the games."
Roman Games, Bear Fighting. Left leaf of an ivory diptych
Public DomainRoman Games, Bear Fighting. Left leaf of an ivory diptych - Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons
The Games were a form of Roman entertainment, sometimes connected with a religious holiday. They involved fights between gladiators as well as men fighting wild beasts – a very gory spectacle. In a letter to M. Marius in 55 BC, Cicero talked of the pointlessness of the violence of the Games:

“There remain the two wild-beast hunts, lasting five days, magnificent – nobody denies it – and yet, what pleasure can it be to a man of refinement, when either a weak man is torn by an extremely powerful animal, or a splendid animal is transfixed by a hunting spear?”

(Cicero’s Letters. Translation: Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (1908-1909) The Letters of Cicero; the whole extant correspondence in chronological order, in four volumes. London. George Bell and Sons.)

Read more of Cicero’s Letters, Philosophy and Speeches at the Perseus Digital Library.

Find out more about the Games, the gladiators and Roman entertainment here.

A Roman Amphitheatre (where the Games were held) in Verona
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA Roman Amphitheatre (where the Games were held) in Verona - Credit: Horacio Arevalo/Wikimedia Commons