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A politically ambitious privatus (private citizen) might postpone his deceased father's munus to the election season, when a generous show might drum up votes; those in power and those seeking it needed the support of the plebeians and their tribunes, whose votes might be won with the mere promise of exceptionally good show.

In 65 BC, newly elected curule aedile Julius Caesar held games that he justified as munus to his father, who had been dead for 20 years.

The games finally declined during the early 5th century after the adoption of Christianity as state church of the Roman Empire in 380, although beast hunts (venationes) continued into the 6th century.

Long after the games had ceased, the 7th century AD writer Isidore of Seville derived Latin lanista (manager of gladiators) from the Etruscan word for "executioner," and the title of Charon (an official who accompanied the dead from the Roman gladiatorial arena) from Charun, psychopomp of the Etruscan underworld.

Their Campanian allies stage a dinner entertainment using gladiators who may not be Samnites, but play the Samnite role.

Compared to these images, supporting evidence from Etruscan tomb-paintings is tentative and late.

The origin of gladiatorial combat is open to debate.

There is evidence of it in funeral rites during the Punic Wars of the 3rd century BC, and thereafter it rapidly became an essential feature of politics and social life in the Roman world.

Part of the Zliten mosaic from Libya (Leptis Magna), about 2nd century AD.

It shows (left to right) a thraex fighting a murmillo, a hoplomachus standing with another murmillo (who is signaling his defeat to the referee), and one of a matched pair., "sword") was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals.