The wild beast emerges with its great magnificence showing its incredible power to human beings, helpless before its claws, fangs or poison... this primordial power that could tear men apart in the blink of an eye; however, just to entertain their audience, human beings are capable to impose their will over the beast, forcing it to obey them even against its wild nature.
This show has dazzled spectators for thousands of years. In one mural painting in the Greek island of Crete, almost 5000 years old, we may see a group of athletic youngsters of both genders performing acrobatic jumps on a bull with impressive antlers. Afterwards, in Roma, combats among gladiators and beasts, brought from several secluded spots of the empire became very famous; and throughout the Middle Ages a popular fair show included tamed bears. The circus as we know it was created by horseman Philip Astley in 1768 and was based on the acts of talented riders and their impressive acrobatics on top of a horse.
One of the most renowned equestrian artists (Equerry) was Miss Mae Wirth.
It is instinctive: the presence of a huge feline inspires an atavistic fear in humans; and its roaring causes the urgent desire to flee. Thus, the inherently impressive exhibition to the public of big felines became more bloodcurdling when, in the second decade of the XIX century, some beasts tamers started to come into their cages in front of a terrified public. The first beast tamer to become famous was Isaac Van Amburgh with his characteristics roman belt array. Around 1850, the first tamer women emerged, one of the most notorious was Ellen Chapman, who was the first female artist to put her head into the jaws of a lion; nevertheless the most impressive artist was Mabel Stark, who performed her act without a gun, whip, or even a chair to protect her in case of an attack.
Big predators cause great fear, but other types of animals cause horror and repulsion, and that is why artists that make their living using poisonous bugs such as cobras or scorpions have always been admired and applauded. Another type of snake that kills its prey not poisoning them but crushing them was the beginning a traditional feminine act, where in a clear reference to biblical texts, a huge boa curls in the partly-naked voluptuous body of the artist, inspiring feelings of disgustingness and fascination in the public.