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By Hal Marcovitz

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Again, the animals killed the others first—only Blandina remained alive. Finally, the Romans sent a steer into the arena. The steer attacked Blandina, tossing her into the air with its horns. A guard then finished off the girl with a dagger. Blandina was later granted sainthood by the Catholic Church. Today, the ruins of the amphitheater in Lyons have been preserved, including the stake where Blandina is said to have been bound during her ordeal. Quoted in Judith Couchman, The Mystery of the Cross: Bringing Ancient Christian Images to Life.

This rule meant that Roman soldiers never ran away from a fight—they were expected to kill the enemy soldier after he gave up and retreated, usually with a sword or javelin thrust to the back. The First Punic War These tactics served the Roman army well. During the height of the empire’s influence, the Roman army numbered some 500,000 soldiers. Following the defeat by the Gauls, the Roman legions would suffer occasional defeats, to be sure, but those were typically avenged as military commanders regrouped, summoned reserves, and attacked again with a relentless resolve to vanquish their foes.

25 Gladiatorial Combat During the games Romans could witness all manner of blood sports. In the mornings wild animals were set loose in the arena to fight against armed men or devour criminals or other undesirables, such as army deserters. Fights among female warriors were also common, as were sword battles featuring dwarfs. The afternoons were set aside for serious gladiatorial combat. The typical gladiator was a slave captured in a foreign war. He was trained One of ancient Rome’s most magnificent structures, the Colosseum (pictured), was built for blood sports and other forms of entertainment.

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