Sjef van Tilborg, «The Danger at Midday: Death Threats in the Apocalypse», Vol. 85 (2004) 1-23
This paper proposes a new suggestion in the discussion regarding possible death threats in the Apocalypse. It makes a comparison between relevant texts from the Apocalypse and what happens during festival days when rich civilians entertain their co-citizens with (gladiatorial) games. At the end of the morning and during the break special fights are organized. Condemned persons are forced to fight against wild animals or against each other to be killed by the animals or by fire. The paper shows that a number of texts from the Apocalypse are better understood, when they are read against this background.
6 Sjef van Tilborg
What goings-on there were is beautiful to read in a poem from the
A man fixed a pole on the ground,
And throwing himself into the air made a somersault,
And with his nimble feet passed over the back of the beast
That was rushing at him.
It failed to catch him;
The people applauded loudly
And the man escaped (IX. 53).
If it is correct, it is about trained people who have a good chance
of surviving at the risk of their own lives. Different terms are used:
prokunhgiva (the show of the animals before they are slaughtered);
kunhgia or kunhgesiva (the hunt after the animals by trained animal
hunters), tauromacia (the bullfight), taurobolia (the ritual sacrifice
of a bull) and qhriomaciva the collective name for all sorts of fights:
those between animal and human being (trained or not; armed or not)
and those between animal and animal.
There are all sorts of combinations made: In Ancyra from the time
of Tiberius a long list of benefactors has been preserved who besides
other benefactions for the city have also taken care of the gladiatorial
games: the son of Brigatos took care of a feast with 30 pairs of
gladiators and a hunting party after bulls and wild beasts; Rufus, of a
kunhgion; [â€¦]llios, of a gladiatorial fight with 25 pairs of gladiators;
PylaimenÃ¨s is mentioned three times: as organizer of a bullfight and a
kunhgion; later once more as organizer of a bullfight combined with
50 pairs of gladiators; and a couple of years later once again as
organizer of a gladiatorial fight with 30 pairs of gladiators (21); In
Pinara a man is honored who organized just about everything in
different cities of Lycia: qhriomaciva, tauromaciva, kunhgesiva,
prokunhgia, and tauroboliva (22). In Xanthos someone has organized
prokunhgiva, tauromaciva and qhriomaciva in the temple of Leto
(ROBERT, 105); in Telmessos: monomaciva and qhriomaciva (ROBERT,
108); in Oinoanda: kunhgesiva, qhriomaciva and monomaciva (ROBERT,
113; 113a) etc.
Thus there is often the combination of the monomaciva with another
form of amusement, but not always. Sometimes only a qhriomaciva is
(21) ROBERT, 86
(22) ROBERT, 104