Rome and the Gladiators

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The Gladiators and Ancient RomeHistory of Rome: | The Origins of Rome | The seven Kings of Rome | The Conquest of Italy and the Punic Wars | The Republic and social struggle | The Republic in crisis | Julius Caesar and the end of the Republic | Augustus and the Empire | The Julio Claudian dynasty | The Five Good Emperors | Other Emperors | Emperor Constantine and Christianisation |Fall of the Roman Empire of the West |

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The Gladiators: |Gladiator | Commodus | Training | Gladiator fights | After the Gladiatorial fights | Types of Gladiator | More types and Classes of Gladiator | Christian martyrs and the Colosseum | Christians against the Circus and Colosseum | Gladiators, Christians and Fish |Rise and Fall of the Gladiators |

Gladiators

Slaves and criminals were certainly employed in gladiatorial bouts and in some cases this was used as a form of capital punishment. To these we should add a good number of voluntary "professionals" largely made up of prisoners of war. There were also free citizens who were trying to pay off debts or indeed even reckless upper-class men in search of a buzz and popular fame, particularly with women. These free men were called "Auctorati" and they had no need to be under the supervision of the trainer-jailer "Lanista".

A champion Gladiator could understandably become quite a "decus puellarum" or a "suspirium puellarum" - a young lady's heart-throb. It would be quite common for these victorious Gladiator playboys to freshen up at the nearby fountain called the Meta Sudans where they could meet and exchange words and phone numbers with their lady fans. Juvenal goes as far as suggesting that respectable women might literally turn into the crazed fans of the ugliest gladiator and his sword in favour of their husbands and children.

The more normal circumstance was that of the prisoner of war who had been given the choice between slavery or a fixed term contract as a Gladiator. Although dangerous the Gladiatorial option gave the captive an opportunity to become free at the end of his contract and in the mean time to earn himself a discrete sum of money. A famous but not so successful example of this was Spartacus. He led the Gladiators and the slaves who joined them in a massive revolt, defeating various legions only to be betrayed by pirates in southern Italy. Stranded in southern Italy he and his forces were eventually beaten and crucified.

Read on about Commodus and Upper Class Gladiators....

The Gladiators: |Gladiator | Commodus | Training | Gladiator fights | After the Gladiatorial fights | Types of Gladiator | More types and Classes of Gladiator | Christian martyrs and the Colosseum | Christians against the Circus and Colosseum | Gladiators, Christians and Fish |Rise and Fall of the Gladiators |

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This page about Rome history was written by Giovanni Milani-Santarpia for www.mariamilani.com - Rome apartments