Roman Times and Events: Those about to Die, Chapter 05, Part 4 of 4

(by Daniel P. Mannix)

Carpophorus' man-eater was a perfectly trained animal. He had developed such a perfect "habit pattern" that he never thought of attacking Carpophorus or anyone except a person exposed on the sand of the training arena.

He was used to eating only under these specific conditions and would have starved to death in a butcher shop because he wouldn't have recognized the meat as edible. (This may seem incredible but it's true. A confirmed maneating lion or tiger will charge through a herd of sheep to get at the shepherd and will not touch a freshly killed cow because he has lost his taste for anything but human flesh.

This was true of the famous maneaters of Tsavo in Kenya, East Africa, who held up the construction of a railroad for three weeks. These two lions ignored goats, cattle and even zebra—the lion's favorite food—left out for them.

They finally had to be lured into a double-compartmented trap with two men in one of the compartments. Even with a fusillade of bullets whining about them, they continued to try to reach the men.)

Carpophorus' leopard had become so fixed in this "habit pattern" that the young bestiarius could take him for walks past the angelope herds in the big stockyards where animals intended for the arena were kept. The leopard paid no attention to the antelopes.

However, for safety's sake, Carpophorus always took him on a leash until one evening when Carpophorus had a little too much wine and he didn't bother to leash the leopard while taking the animal down to drink.

By bad luck, something panicked the antelopes and they rushed past the leopard. The sight of the fleeing animals so close to him awoke the big cat's hunting instinct and he sprang on an oryx.

Carpophorus tried to drag him off, but the leopard clung to the terrified antelope, hanging to the oryx's flank with his long dewclaws. In a blind fury, Carpophorus brought his flail with the lead balls down on the leopard's head and killed him with a single blow.

The young man had killed an animal far more valuable than himself and the raging instructor of the school, to whom Carpophorus had pledged himself as a slave, ordered him thrown to the wild beasts at the next show.

Carpophorus accepted his fate in grim silence. But the beasts to be used as executioners were all animals from the stockyards and Carpophorus knew them well.

When he was driven into the arena by the circus slaves, Carpophorus strode up to the mixed group of lions, tigers, leopards, and bears shouting, "You, Cheops! You, Lesbia! Down, Herod! Good girl, Cypros!" The puzzled animals slunk away and started fighting among themselves.

This exhibition so impressed the crowd that they demanded Carpophorus' release and he was sent back to the school. After that, he never again touched wine when working with an animal and made a serious attempt to control his temper.

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