Damnatio ad Bestias

is that aslan about to polish them off
The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Damnatio ad Bestias

The lions weren’t alone in the Colosseum
To kill the priests –
Not that there were none,
But the Romans also had their fun
With boars, and bulls, and dogs, especially dogs,
To be the beasts.
Their moment was the lunchtime lull
When public executions filled the interval –
And some, I guess, were Christians,
Making up the Lions’ feasts.

Of course, a Colosseum death
Was for the criminals –
And Christians weren’t often used
To feed the animals.
Persecution was rarer than lions –
It happened, but only in spurts.
But how to vilify Roman indiff’rence
And un-martyred lack-of-hurts ?
We needed far more dramatic saints,
So unleash the lions and uncork the paints !

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