reading through the articles on social classes, work, education
and the means of living of the early civilians, it can be seen that
the people in the past probably led a rather hard life. However,
was their hard work paid off? Did they have a time to relax under
the tight control of strict governments?
work and education, the people of the past did have some form of
entertainment in their lives. For the early Egyptians, they enjoyed
athletic games such as wrestling, ball games, and gymnastics. Swimming,
sailing, and board games were favourite family activities, and the
wealthy enjoyed hunting crocodiles, lions, and wild cattle with
spears or bows and arrows. The early Athenians, on the other hand,
invented the idea of theatre -- that is, plays in which private
individuals publicly examined man's fate. For three days running,
the people of Athens -- men, women, and children -- would rise at
dawn to go to the theatre to watch the tragedies performed. Each
day, they would see three plays by one playwright. A panel of judges
eventually selected the best play and the playwright received a
reward of money.
Romans had an unusual form of entertainment - they took pleasure
in watching men and animals kill each other! They enjoyed watching
chariot races and fights between gladiators which were more dangerous
and more cruel than chariot races. These fights took place in the
amphitheatre, a circular or oval shaped building with an arena in
the centre surrounded by tiered seating. The Colosseum was one such
amphitheatre, and it could hold 45,000 spectators.
were highly trained fighters, usually slaves, criminals, or prisoners
of war, who fought each other to the death for the amusement of
the spectators. Some gladiators were heavily armed with shields,
swords, and body armour; others wore no armour and carried only
a spear and net to throw over their opponent. If a gladiator was
knocked down but remained alive, the public was allowed to decide
his fate. Fluttering handkerchiefs meant "spare him"; clenched fists,
thumbs down meant "kill him." The amphitheatre was also used for
animal fights, and fights between men and animals. Lions, elephants,
and bears were imported from all parts of the Roman Empire, and
starved before being brought to the arena.
Mayas enjoyed a type of ball game which was played in a ball court
found in every Maya city. Players competed to hit the ball of the
sloping walls of the ball court using only their hips, thighs, shoulders
and upper arms. However, the ball game was not so easy as we see
it - there was more to the ball game, in which the loser not only
lost the game but lost his live as well! Losers were sacrificed
as offerings to the Gods.
ancient Chinese played a soccer-like game, while the ancient Indians,
like the ancients Romans, enjoyed chariot racing.
the ancient forms of entertainment still exist in various parts
of the world. Sports such as swimming and sailing are still widely
enjoyed by most. In fact, in certain schools such as those in the
United States, these sports are even part of the school's curriculum.
The type of ball games that we have today spans over a great variety,
such as American football, soccer, basketball and volleyball. These
games are played both for leisure purposes and at a competitive
level. In addition, we still watch plays in theatres like the ancient
the cruel type of entertainment that most Romans enjoy - watching
man and beast kill one another, is no longer carried out in most
regions of the world, except perhaps in underground fighting rings
in countries such as the States. Imagine if this sport was rampant,
enjoyed by people all over the world, how many millions of dead
bodies would there be living in the streets? Why do you think many
Romans enjoyed such a cruel sport? Imagine the traumatising effect
watching such a sport would have on the children!
Colosseum in Rome was completed in AD 82 under the Flavian emperors.
It was built as an outdoor arena for gladiatorial combat and originally
known as the Flavian Amphitheater.
Maya Ball Court
In the theater of Dionysus in Athens the action took place on three
levels. The chorus sat on the second level and commented on the
action. The theater was built on land immediately below the hill
called the Acropolis in the center of the ancient city.
theater at Epidaurus in the Peloponnese is the best preserved ancient
theater in Greece. Designed by Polyclitus the Younger in the 4th
century BC, it can still be used.
Chariot races were a common spectator sport in Rome's Circus Maximus
during the reign of Emperor Trajan. One such race was portrayed
by the artist Ulpiano Checa in 1890. It was also popular among the
Aryans of ancient India.