Circus Maximus - The Festival of Venatio - A Template For Future Circuses

The year is 169 BC.

A festival called a Venatio, is about to begin. You wait, along with 150,000 other spectators
on a bank overlooking a valley between Aventine and Palatine Hills, now modified into a huge stadium, the largest in the Roman Empire, Circus Maximus. Basically, a large race track designed for chariot races but today, it is being used for the festival. 

You're standing up front behind a walled barrier for your own protection. It's only moments before the gates are opened and 10 large decorated mounted elephants parade out in full regalia, followed by cage-wagons full of exotic wild animals; lions, cheetahs, bears. The last full of men, the animals opponents.  

It's a sport, lasting days. Held twice a year. A real spectacle.

During Caesar's reign, 3500 elephants were killed during these events.

The elephants take position as guards, while Man VS. Animal fight to the death. Usually the men fighting were slaves and were promised freedom if victorious, at other times 'gladiators.' It's kill or be killed. All the animals would eventually lose, even the elephants. 

When no festival was being held, Circus Maximus became an execution site, offering venues such as; burning at the stake, or crucifixions, disembowelments, quartering, that sort of entertainment.

Circus Maximus became a model for all circuses to follow, right up until today but luckily minus the festival of Venatio, the violence, the gore, the executions and of course the poor animals, eh?  

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