In Filelfo and Valla Poggio found his match; and Italy was amused for years with the spectacle of their indecent combats.
Already in the time of Nero the magistrates had been ordered to receive the slave's complaint of ill-treatment; and the lex Petronia, belonging to the same or an earlier period, forbade masters to hand over their slaves to combats with wild beasts.
They protested against the multiplication of slaves from motives of vanity in the houses of the great, against the gladiatorial combats (ultimately abolished by the noble self-devotion of a monk) and against the consignment of slaves to the theatrical profession, which was often a school of corruption.
Even under Theodosius the combats of the amphitheatre were permitted, if not encouraged, by the state authorities; these sports were still expected from the candidates for public honours.
Combats of men with beasts were longest continued; they had not ceased even in the early years of the reign of Justinian.