The Romans liked entertainment. There was no electricity; it was long before cinema, TV, computers… so, what types of entertainment do you think the Romans enjoyed?
Plays, live music concerts (using Roman instruments, different from today's instruments), singing, poetry recitals, sport, games and gladiators!
Romans enjoyed the theatre. Most plays were funny comedies, though there were serious tragedies as well.
Actors often wore masks to show whether their character was happy or sad. They also wore wigs to help the audience identify who they were playing: an old man wore a white wig, while a slave wore a red wig.
Masks used by actors in ancient Rome.
The Romans loved a day at the races. It was so popular that Rome´s race track (called Circus Maximus) could hold a crowd of 250.000 people (that holds more people than the biggest football stadium on Earth).
Riders charged around seven laps of the stadium in chariots either pulled by two or four horses.
There were four teams of chariot races in Rome (blues, greens, reds and whites). People supported them like we follow football teams today.
Riders were known as aurigas. The most famous auriga of all times was Diocles, who was born in Mérida (Spain).
A chariot race.
Now you will understand why aurigas had such a high salary.
Have you heard of gladiators? What do you know about them?
They were men (sometimes women) who fought in front of an audience.
The Romans first thought of gladiators when they found out that the Etruscans (who originated North of Rome and became part of the empire very early on) killed a prisoner or a slave at the funeral of one of their soldiers. A life for a life, a gift to the dead man.
The Romans took this a step further and, at their funerals, would have two prisoners or slaves fighting to the death over the grave of the dead man. The Romans liked the gladiator fights so much they began to ask for them before they died. They went on to set up gladiator schools and huge gladiator arenas where the public could come to watch.
Over 50.000 people would pack into the Colosseum stadium in Rome. They´d watch huntsmen take on wild animals, executions and gladiators fight to the death.
More gladiators were slaves, criminals or captured soldiers. If a gladiator was very successful, he could win his freedom.
There were lots of types of gladiators, some fought with a sword and a shield, while others used a net and a trident.
A combat between two gladiators.