When did Gladiator fights/events end

Specifically when did

  1. They cease to be held at all and

  2. Cease to be a major attraction.

Wiki is not helpful.

They started declining with the rise of Christianity, which was opposed to the practice. Convicted criminals stopped being thrown to the beasts in the 360s. The last gladiatorial game was held in 399. In the middle of the games, a Christian named Tetramachus, who had gotten out on the field and started publicly condemning the games, was killed by a gladiator. The backlash over that led Honorius (who really had bigger problems) to outlaw them.

I thought Honorius preferred Chicken farming, which was the cause of the events of 410. And this would I presume be in the Western Roman Empire, what about in the East?

Animal hunts continued sometimes after the gladiatorial fights had been stopped. There is a late text which describe the pitiful state of the animals of the Coloseum, apparently so old and weary they could hardly bother to go into the arena.

Usually the German Wiki is better than the English: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolosseum

Gladiator combat was never very common in the east, and when Constantine built Constantinople, he didn’t build a gladiatorial arena. In fact, Constantine outlawed gladiatorial combat, but it really only stuck in the East. The passion in the east was racing, and that went on for quite a long time.

Animal hunts were being held as late as 523, because they’re referenced during the time of Theodoric.

What happened to the Gladiators when Hornius banned them? Was it a blanket ban, or one which simply prevented fights from being potentially fatal.


Early example of a damned liberal do-gooder if you ask me.


It was a blanket ban. As to what happened to the gladiators, I’m not entirely sure. There weren’t that many of them anymore, because gladiatorial combat had been declining in popularity for a while. I assume that what happened to them is what tended to happen to former or retired Roman gladiators in general; they tended to either become bodyguards, or be the “muscle” in criminal gangs.

Ok, if the Gladiator fights ended why was there not a corresponding ban on fighting animals, which could be more dangerous.

Largely because Christianity has a moral objection to a person fighting and killing another person, while it doesn’t to a person killing an animal or an animal killing another animal.

Is not the Iberian tradition of bullfighting a more or less direct descendant (with modifications) of ancient Roman arena combats of man vs. animal? I know I have seen pictures of modern bullfights being held in well-preserved Roman arenas, like in Arles, and it looked totally natural.

Sure. 523 was just the last documented ancient animal hunt/beast fight in the Roman Colosseum.

When was the last time the Colesseum used for any public purpose?

Not counting its modern use as a pilgrimage site? Passion plays were held there from 1490-1539, when they were banned for sparking anti-Jewish riots. In 1700, Clement XI used it as a manure depot for the manufacturing of saltpeter for gunpowder, and in 1749, it was consecrated as a church.

Interesting. I had always thought the various sackings of Rome in the second half of the first millennium had left the arena like most Roman structures, in ruins and unusable.

In the same light, modern boxing only differs from gladiatorial combat in the sense that (a) there are no weapons but fists, and (b) they are rarely fatal.

Yep. I would argue that gladiatorial combat has never ended.