Virunum Amphitheater

Municipium Claudium Virunum was a Roman town in the Roman province of Noricum, located in the area of the present-day Zollfeld near Maria Saal in Carinthia.

The town itself covered around one square kilometer. Extensive systematic excavations took place from the late 19th century until 1931.

The many years of restoration work at the Virunum amphitheater have been concluded: The arena, in which gladiatorial combat and animal baiting once took place, is now almost completely visible. During tours by appointment, it is also possible to visit the underground tunnels used by gladiators and the shrine which was dedicated to the goddess Nemesis.

Bread & Circuses

The Roman populace was kept malleable in accordance with the principle of “panem et circenses” (bread and circuses). The “circuses” referred to blood sports, a decadent pastime that served to distract the gullible masses from the political issues of the time. The principle even makes an appearance in the comics of Asterix and Obelix, when Caesar states: “The people are happy. That's the way I like it.” During the gladiatorial games, bread was distributed among the plebs, keeping it not just entertained, but also full – and thus easier to rule.

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