One of the few Romans before the Constantinian age to write against the games was the Stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger. He condemned their brutality and heartlessness, and claimed that they made people more selfish and self-indulgent, crueler and less humane. To the anticipated objection that those who had committed serious crimes deserved to die, Seneca responded: ‘Granted that, as a murderer, he deserved this punishment, what crime have you committed, poor fellow, that you should deserve to sit and see this show?’ (Letters vii; Grant 1967:118). He evidently believed that the spectator of the games lost more than he gained by his experience. If Seneca was right, he was harming himself, becoming a poorer person than before. Compare Seneca’s comment with this by James Baldwin:
Whoever debases others is debasing himself. That is not a mystical statement but a most realistic one, which is proved by the eyes of any Alabama sheriff (J.Baldwin 1964:73).