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  • Writer's pictureMarina Veronica

What does "Damnatio ad bestias" mean, as shown in this 3rd century AD mosaic with ferocious felines?

Leopards attacking a criminal, Roman floor mosaic, 3rd century AD, Archaeological Museum of Tunisia

Answer: It means "condemnation to beasts" in Italian.

This mosaic shows a form of Roman capital punishment where a condemned person was killed by hungry wild animals. The felines that were used were lions, leopards and tigers. This "performance" was given to spectators in a colosseum as a form of brutal entertainment.

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