only served to supply an ever growing craving for voluptuous vanity. Political
ambitions changed the whole range of social life.
As all accessible parts of the inhabited world slowly fell into the power
and control of the Roman Empire, success and greed mingled with personal
vanity, ambition and cruelty, crushed the highest Greek ideals into distorted,
disconnected forms. Success in the cruel subordination of other nations
caused voluptuous vulgarity to sit upon the throne of art and a transformation
took place in all branches of social life which induced people to look for
material gain, while the God within was almost forgotten and the voice of
the soul became silent.
As Rome, with its thousand occupations and ambitions, its innume-
rable disputes and wars, rapidly became the capital city of the world, the
whole population was swayed like a troubled sea without time for quiet
meditation, lashed by one emperor, caressed and pacified by another. Physical
culture then took on another form.
The magnificent Colosseum, the huge Circus Maximus and the Baths of
Caracalla rapidly answered a growing demand for amusement and recreation.
" In three places ", says Cicero, " is the voice of the Roman people most
certainly heard : in city assemblies, in the Comitia and at the games and
combats ". At these last, people of all classes gathered in great numbers
for their principal pleasure. " Anyone who would gain popular favour, "
says Dio of Prusa, " must get not only jugglers, actors and athletes, but
wild lions or a thousand bulls or even, should he desire to please the mob,
that unspeakable thing, gladiators". For training these, physical culture
schools sprang up throughout the empire.
The Colosseum and the Circus Maximus within a short distance of one
another, seemed to serve as lungs to which people flocked from the narrow
streets to breathe and be amused. Here horses raced and were sold; gladia-
tors fought singly or in large numbers, among themselves or with animals;
slaves were tortured and given as food to wild beasts, Christians were massa-
cred and publicly exhibited, in fact, every hideous form of cruelty was invented
and practised to satisfy debased, unnatural desires. Wherever the Roman
civilisation spread, there was the amphitheatre, carrying the same corrupt
ideals that had originated and inspired it.
The Greeks in all their endeavours, struggled for an ideal and attained
it. The Romans craved instead for cruel, vain diversion, and in these diver-
sions the human body was contorted, even hacked limb from limb, devoured
by ferocious beasts or burned to ashes.
Not that the Roman people were without feeling for the human figure,
for, when Tiberius took possession of the celebrated statue of the Apoxyo-
menos, a masterpiece by the Greek sculptor Lysippus which Agrippa had
placed in a theatre for his people, he was obliged by the mob to return it.
This shows their pride in and appreciation of an ideally proportioned, nude