The “venatio” at the Colosseum

July 19, 2023
The “venatio” at the Colosseum

Estimated Reading Time: 3min 15 sec

Did you know that there were more than gladiator fights at the Colosseum? Do you know what the “venatio” is? It was one of the most popular activities which took place in the Colosseum. Do you want to know what the “venatio” is? Read on… and even better…take one of our tours… we’ll take you to the Colosseum and tell you all about the incredible “venatio”…

The Venatio

The Venatio, the latin word for “hunting”, was a type of entertainment in Roman amphitheaters involving the hunting and killing of wild animals.  According to some sources, the first forms of “venationes” were organized in the course of the III century b.C., and that the practice of the “venatio” and the hunting was very common and very much felt in roman culture.

The Colosseum hosted, according to the stories that have reached us, some of the most incredible “venatio”…

Venatio at the Colosseum

Venatio at the Colosseum

Try to imagine the arena of the Colosseum populated by deers or gazelles, rabbits or hares. Try to imagine also the presence of many ferocious animals such as lions, panthers or tigers. But even something more incredible such as bears or even elephants. Imagine one or more hunters  (the “venatores”) standing in the arena, with only one objective: hunt these animals down. The “venatores” were true hunters, or people trained specially for the purpose. There were not real rules for the “venatio”. The “venatores” used to have just one weapon, a spear.  Thanks to some records we know that there were “venatores” who tried to kill animals like bears without weapons, using just the hands! The show must have been incredible.

The show of the Emperor’s Power

A “venatio” was a pure entertainment for the ancient Romans, who in this way were able to admire exotic animals. This was a way for the empire to show it’s power.  The emperor, in particular, could demonstrate he could bend Nature to his power transporting to Rome, these exotic animals. In addition to this the Emperor arranged for these events to be magnificent. The scenes in the Colosseum were that is curated to the very last detail. The arena was filled with caves, knolls, hills, and trees. The wild animals appeared on the arena through trap-doors. This “special effect” must have truly amazed the audience.


Come to Rome and take one of our Tours of the Colosseum. We’ll share the stories of the Naumachiae and the Venatio…. Come to Rome and visit the Colosseum and many other hidden treasures that the Eternal city hides.Come and #feeltheessence.