Christians and the Roman games
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The Roman Empire was known for promoting "over the top" public entertainment, especially their games. Though popular, the brutal games caused the death and dismemberment of many men and beasts in pursuit of pleasing Roman citizens. Such brutality reached its peak in the gladiatorial fights:
"The most popular, and at the same time the most inhuman and brutalizing of these public spectacles were the gladiatorial fights in the arena. Myriads of men and beasts were sacrificed to satisfy a savage curiosity and thirst for blood. At the inauguration of the Flavian amphitheater from five to nine thousand wild beasts were slain in one day. No less than ten thousand gladiators fought in the feasts which Trajan gave to the Romans after the conquest of Dacia, and which lasted four months." (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2: Ante-Nicene Christianity, Scribner's, New York, 1889, page 95.)
Trajan certain had his reasons for celebrating the conquest of Dacia. In 117 A.D., his conquering of the region (west of the Black Sea) catapulted the empire to reach the largest territory that would ever be under its control. Under Trajan, the empire controlled 2.5 million square miles (6.5 million square kilometers) of territory.
Due to the generous support of the Roman Emperor or wealthy citizen, a visitor to the Coliseum could watch animals hunted, or the execution of prisoners or even gladiators fighting. The number of men who died while battling was high. Estimates are that in the first century A.D., the loser in a gladiatorial fight lost his life about 25% per cent of the time. By the third century, this figure became almost 50%. (Fik Meijer, The Gladiators: History's Most Deadly Sport, Thomas Dunne Books, page 61)
The hunting of wild animals as public entertainment in the arena began in 186 B.C. Then in 167 B.C., the practice of having these animals execute criminals began. Such events proved popular. The emperor Augustus, during his rule, sponsored games in which a total of 3,500 wild animals died. The notorious Nero once had 400 bears and 300 lions killed in a single day. The importation of so many exotic animals from Africa was such that eventually certain types became difficult to find.