And they stopped because of one man: Telemachus, a Christian monk, newly arrived to Rome from Egypt.
On that particular day (commonly held to be January 1, 404), the Romans were celebrating a victory over the Goths by forcing captured Germanic warriors to kill one another when Telemachus, shocked at what he saw of slaughter and blood, leapt into the Coliseum arena and begged for the games to stop:
In the midst of the bloodshed a voice was heard bidding it to cease in the name of Christ, and between the swords there was seen standing a monk in his dark brown dress, holding up his hand and keeping back the blows.
The outraged spectators stoned him to death, but his plea (and his death) convinced the Emperor Honorius three days later to decree an end to the games.
And so end they did.
Is the Roman Catholic Church, clergy and lay alike, prepared to wade into the midst of bloodshed and cry cease? Are other Christians prepared to take up the cause of Telemachus and confront the leviathan of state mandates?
Over the next few months, we shall see.