- Hizdahr zo Loraq: "They ask for the reopening of the fighting pits."
- Daenerys Targaryen: "Where slaves fought slaves to the death?"
- Hizdahr zo Loraq: "In the new world you've brought us, free men would fight free men. The pit fighters you liberated plead for this opportunity...opening them would show the people of Yunkai and Meereen that you respect their traditions."
- — Hizdahr zo Loraq requests that Daenerys Targaryen reopen the fighting pits in Meereen.[src]
Fighting pits are establishments, usually huge arenas, where men and women, usually slaves, fight to the death against other pit fighters or wild animals in gladiatorial combat, for the entertainment of patrons.
The cities of Slaver's Bay are well known for their fighting pits.
During Daenerys Targaryen's liberation of Slaver's Bay, she defeats Yunkai before marching on Meereen, where she establishes herself as Queen. The fighting pits are abolished along with slavery itself, as the pit fighters are all slaves. Howver, the Wise Masters of Yunkai return to power and enslave all their freedmen, so Daenerys sends a Great Master at her service, Hizdahr zo Loraq, to negotiate with the Wise Masters, and Daario Naharis and his Second Sons to serve as a threat. When Hizdahr and Daario return they report that their negotiations were successful: the Wise Masters will comply with her abolition of slavery and set up a ruling council of former slaveholders and freedman. However, the Wise Masters request concessions in return: that Daenerys reopen the fighting pits in Meereen. Daenerys cannot tolerate this, even though Hizdahr insists that free men would fight free men willingly - as many of the former pit fighters were left without work, and eagerly want the gladiatorial games to be reopened. Hizdahr also insists that fighting pits are important to the local traditions of Yunkai and Meereen, but Daenerys still says no.
Later at night when Daenerys is in bed with Daario, he also says that she should reopen the fighting pits. He explains that he was sold into slavery when he was twelve, and ended up in Tolos, where he was trained as a pit fighter and entered the combat when he was sixteen. He did so well that he was eventually freed, and used his combat training to become a high-ranking officer in the Second Sons. As he says, the fighting pits give the gladiators opportunities to rise above their positions at the bottom of society.
In the booksEdit
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, there are several fighting pits in Slaver's Bay. Hizdahr says that the combats are (allegedly) profoundly religious in nature, a blood sacrifice to the gods of Old Ghis, and thus deeply rooted in the traditions of Slaver's Bay and the Ghiscari religion. In theory, they are not mere butchery but a display of courage, skill, and strength for the gods. Though of course, the fighting pits also bring in a large amount of coin from spectators, and those who gamble on the gladiatorial fights.
The combatants wear no armor in the fighting pits as it is blood the crowds have come to see. Usually, fighting pits feature gladiators against gladiators, gladiators against beasts, or beast against beasts. But there are also pits in which slave children are forced to fight beasts, and "follies" in which children, cripples, dwarfs, or old people are placed with mock weapons against wild animals for the mockery of onlookers. There are even pits in which slave children are covered in different foods so that patrons may bet on which child a given beast will devour first.
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