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Leisure Activities• There is a great range of evidence for public and private leisure activities enjoyed in Pompeii and Herculaneum, from theatres and public baths to smaller artefacts such as board games and dice
Spectacles and Blood Sports• The largest building in Pompeii was dedicated to public leisure in the form of gladiator combats and other contests• The amphitheatre, which seated between 13 000 and 20 000 people, staged spectacles and blood sports on the many public holidays in the Roman calendar• Paintings, mosaics and inscriptions provide evidence of the events that were held and the people who provided them• Weapons and armour used by gladiators have also been uncovered
Theatre• The theatres in Pompeii and Herculaneum which seated up to 5000 and 2500 people respectively, are evidence of the popularity of dramatic performances• Comedies, tragedies and farces were performed, often as part of religious festivals• In Pompeii there was also a small covered theatre or odeon which held around 1500 people for concerts, lectures and poetry readings
Music • Musical instruments appear in paintings and mosaics showing scenes of public festivals • Instruments have also been found in houses • This suggests that music was performed publically and may also have been a personal leisure activity
Athletics• In both Pompeii and Herculaneum there was a large public athletic centre or palaestra, evidence of continuing Greek influence, where men exercised and where athletic competitions were held• Each had similar features: an open area shaded by large trees; a swimming pool and various facilities for athletes and spectators
Drinking • The taverns and bars uncovered in Pompeii provide evidence that drinking was a popular pastime, especially for men • Wine bars and taverns were found in most of the main streets, near the gates of Pompeii and around the amphitheatre • Wine bars have also been uncovered in the excavated areas of Herculaneum
Drinking• Painted signs outside taverns advertised different types of wine available• A sign from Herculaneum read:Hedone says, “You can get a drink here for one as, if you give two, you will drink better; if you give four, you will drink Falernian”
Gambling• Evidence from mosaics, paintings and graffiti suggest that gambling was a popular leisure activity conducted in bars and public baths• People gambled on the outcome of gladiator combats and cockfights• A large number of dice have been found in Pompeii and there was an association of dice players
Gambling• Knucklebones was another popular game, although it was not always associated with gambling• A drawing from Herculaneum shows 5 girls playing knucklebones