Lions & Romans in Egypt

        As the great kingdom of the Ancient Egyptians was getting weak at the time of Cleopatra VII, Egypt was getting ready to be ruled by the supreme power in the world at that time, the Roman Empire. When the Romans included Egypt as a province under their rule, the Roman Empire was at the peak of glory. When the Roman entered Egypt they were impressed and fascinated by the civilization, life, and history of Ancient Egyptians that were demonstrated in the temples and monuments. Obviously, one of the attractions in Egypt that the Romans were fascinated with was the presence of lions in Egypt.

        One of the important issues that the Romans used to care about was the art of entertainment. Entertainment in the Roman Empire took many forms, like circuses, magicians, animal shows, hunting safaris, but the ultimate entertainment activity that people were charmed with was the fighting games within the walls of Rome's great theater, the Colesseum.

Lions vs. Gladiators, who would win?
Lions against gladiators, what a deadly match

        Within the walls of the Colesseum, gladiators used to compete in death matches in what is famous as "Blood Sports". The gladiators used to fight against each other till death to entertain the emperor, his guests, and the mob audience. The death games became more appealing when animals were introduced to fight till death against the gladiators. Romans used leopards, tigers, bears, giraffs, and of course lions in death matches against the gladiators. Egypt was one of the richest provinces of the Roman Empire, and the Romans used to get most of their lions from Egypt.

        At the peak of the Roman Empire, Christianity as a new religion emerged and as time passed by, the new religion attracted more and more followers to it. The Romans felt the threat that Christianity constetitute, and how easily they are loosing a lot of their citizines to the new religion. As a result, a harsh wave of torture and extermination of Christians was initiated. Romans found that they can abolish the Christians and at the same time entertain themselves and their guests by throwing them to the lions in the Colesseum. Christians were thrown every day in hundreds to the lions, which of course was a very horrible experience.

Lions were used to kill Christians
Christians thrown by Romans to the lions

        A lot of historians and scientists blame the Romans as one of the main reasons for the extinction of the Barbary lion from Egypt and North Africa. The excessive hunting of the Barbary lions by the Romans to be brought to the Colesseum surely contributed to decrease their numbers significantly in North Africa. The big loss of the number of Barbary lions was very hard to be compensated with the remaining lions....


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Copyright Hany Amin 2001. All Rights Reserved