Parmularii et cetera... On sources, silence of law and nature of the supporters of gladiatorial fights in Rome during the Republic and Early Empire


  • Dariusz Słapek University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska


gladiatorial games, audience in amphitheatres, spectators’ manifestations and behaviour, Roman law, public and social order, “football hooliganism”


The enormous popularity of gladiatorial games, noted fights between fans of Pompeii and Nuceria, spontaneous demonstrations by viewers reinforced by the brutality of shows tend to suggest that a serious problem of threat to public order from the audience in the amphitheatre existed in Rome during the Principate. Meanwhile, Roman sources show relatively few examples of aggression. Also, Roman law did not create separate regulations, the task of which was to influence the behavior of spectators. The reasons for this situation were embedded not only in the Lex Iulia theatralis, but also in the nature of the Roman “devoted fans”. They were clearly divided into supporters of the various categories of gladiators, which resulted in their internal breakdown and impeded dangerous collective behavior.

Author Biography

Dariusz Słapek, University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska

Dariusz Słapek (1961) is an Associate Professor at the Department of Ancient History, the University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska Faculty of Humanities in Lublin (Poland). The Chair of the Institute of History (2012–2016) and the Department of Ancient History, editor-in-chief of Res Historica journal. Author of monographs “Gladiators and Politics. Gladiatorial Games During the Period of the late Roman Republic” (in Polish), “Sport and Spectacles of the Ancient World” (in Polish). Editor and co-author of collective monographs: “Lucius Cornelius Sulla – History and Tradition”, “Marcus Antonius – History and Tradition” (both published in English). His research interests encompass the social aspects of the Late Roman Republic and the period of the Principate (slavery, gladiatorial games and other types of Roman spectacles, various problems of everyday life). His academic interests also encompass the history of sport.

Darjušs Slapeks (1961) ir Marijas Kirī-Sklodovskas Universitātes (Ļubļana, Polija), Hu­manitāro zinātņu fakultātes Antīkās vēstures nodaļas asociētais profesors. Vēstures institūta vadītājs (2012–2016) un Antīkās vēstures nodaļas vadītājs, žurnāla Res Historica galvenais redaktors. Vairāku monogrāfiju autors: “Gladiatori un politika. Gladiatoru spēles vēlās Romas republikas periodā” (poļu valodā), “Sports un izrādes senajā pasaulē” (poļu valodā). Divu kolektīvu monogrāfiju redaktors un līdzautors: “Lūcijs Kornēlijs Sulla – vēsture un tradīcija”, “Marks Antonijs – vēsture un tradīcija” (abas angļu valodā). Zinātniskās intereses: vēlās Romas republikas un principāta perioda vēstures sociālie aspekti (verdzība, gladiatoru spēles un citas romiešu izrādes, ikdienas dzīves problēmas), arī sporta vēsture.





How to Cite

Słapek, D. (2017). Parmularii et cetera. On sources, silence of law and nature of the supporters of gladiatorial fights in Rome during the Republic and Early Empire. Journal of the University of Latvia. History | Latvijas Universitātes Žurnāls. Vēsture, (2), 101–122. Retrieved from