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Society in Rome Under the Caesars

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In general, however, no restrictions were put upon ♦ Plin. II. N. 34 62.
208 SOCIAL LIFE IN ROME.
this license, which seems to have increased in the later period of the empire. Tertullian, for instance, speaks of ridicule and abuse directed against the Emperor himself, as a common occur- rence at the games ; but of this we find no trace in the first century. These demonstrations were, as we have said, organized beforehand, and it stands to reason that, in cases where the people were not of one
...mind, rival shouts, each trying to drown the other, were raised from different sides. Sometimes the government tried to utilize the custom for its own purposes. Titus is said to have hired persons to demand in the theatre the death of men whom he suspected and wished to get rid of. * Private malice was sometimes indulged by shout- ing scandalous insinuations at the games, and this was punished as a very malicious form of libel.
But if the spectacles were a political necessity, they played a far more important part as the amusement of an idle population.


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