What were some very important political and social/cultural events of the Roman era?
Gladiatorial combat was one of the most famous pasttimes in ancient Rome. Individual gladiators would often fight to the "first blood" or even to the death, which was often decided by a signal from the emperor. Animal fights, either between animals or including gladiators, were also common. The Circus Maximus was another popular event in which chariot racing or horse races were featured. The Circus (stadium) was often flooded, in which sea battles were fought in front of crowds as large as 385,000 people. Markets and gambling were also a part of events at the Circus--a stadium which was used for more than a thousand years. Popular sports included field hockey, handball and an early form of soccer.
Music concerts were also a popular distraction, often staged in amphitheaters or in an Odeon, a building specifically used for musical events. Romans also attended theatres, gymnasiums, libraries, public baths and shops that were often housed all under one roof in huge buildings such as Trajan's Forum. Public executions were also attended by thousands. Political assemblies, such as the Comitia Calata, allowed Romans to witness various proclamations and attend feasts.