The importance of advertising and of getting valuable publicity was not lost on the Romans. A sign-bearer often accompanied the procession whose placard gave the crowd information about events, participants and other important matters including the emperor's response to petitions. But it was the entry of the gladiators that excited the crowd. Heavy bets were often placed on gladiators so they were assessed for their fitness during the pompa.
Entry of the Gladiators - The Games Begin
The Processions and entry of the gladiators were well organised and planned to precision timing. The gladiators and other members of the parade were fully briefed on exactly what was expected. The spectators all seated in the arenas of Ancient Rome waited for the games to begin with the magnificent processions which would set the scene for the games. The opening of the gladiatorial games may have well started with a religious ceremony and even some ritual sacrifices. The sound of the procession or parade approaching would have been dimly heard in the distance announcing to the spectators that the games were about to begin...
Sacrifices at the Roman Colosseum
Entry of the Gladiators through the Gate of Life
Entry of the Gladiators through the Gate of Life. All eyes would be turned to the east of the arena towards the Gate of Life where the procession would enter. In Ancient Rome the Gate of Life was connected via an underground tunnel to the Ludus Magnus the great Gladiator School. The gladiators would have only joined the end of procession to make their entry into the arena.
Entry of the Gladiators - The Parade
The parade would consist of the 'editor' giving the games surrounded by his supporters, usually to gain political favor with the 'mob', rode on a chariot often drawn by exotic wild animals such as zebras or ostriches. After the chariot came the main procession consisting of colorful floats and decorated carts drawn by animals such as horses, mules and elephants. Acrobats, dancers in exotic costumes, animal trainers and their animal acts, hunters followed. The main parade would have circled the arena, followed by the entry of the Vestal Virgins. The Emperor then entered the amphitheatre to the fanfare of trumpets and then taken his place in the royal box followed by a detachment of the Praetorian Guard.
The Entry of the Gladiators
The entry of the gladiators came last and they would have entered through the Gate of Life to rapturous applause from the their adoring fans in the 'mob'. The gladiators would have been fully briefed and knew exactly what was expected of them. Each gladiator would be attired in specific armor appropriate for the type of gladiator and holding the appropriate weapons which they would use in combat. Some gladiators wore gold-embroidered cloaks. The spectators would have recognised the armor and weapons and were able to distinguish the different styles of combat and types of gladiatorial fights that would be displayed. The entry of the gladiators would have ended as they paraded around the arena and then formed ranks in front of the Imperial Box and the Emperor.
Entry of the Gladiators - "We who are about to die, salute you!"
The entry of the gladiators culminated when the gladiators saluted the emperor shouting the ritual chorus of "Ave imperato morituri te salutant!" which roughly translated meant "We who are about to die, salute you!". After this ceremony a bloodless fight between gladiators with wooden weapons was held, followed by a demonstration of the weapons to be used during the gladiatorial games. The entry of the gladiators led to this final ceremony and to the slaughter in the bloody arena..