The Naumachiae

The Naumachiae were naval combat performances that reproduced important historical battles such as the Greek victory over the Persians at Salamis, or even the Athenian siege of the city of Syracuse.
The spectators followed, with rapt attention, every stage of the performance, taking sides, just as they do today in a football stadium.
The amphitheatre was flooded for the occasion; the ships taking part in it were absolutely authentic and could be seriously damaged or even sunk.
The characters who took part were slaves, criminals or actors paid especially for the occasion.