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Facts about Gladiators

Roman Colosseum

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History, Facts and Information about Facts about Gladiators
The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about Facts about Gladiators.

  • The first recorded gladiatorial fight was staged in 264AD when three pairs of slaves who were selected to fight at the funeral of a prominent Roman

  • The word 'Gladiator' was derived from Gladius which was the Latin word for sword

  • Gladiator games were seen as a method to appease the Roman gods and avert Rome from disaster

  • Gladiatorial combats were first fought in wooden arenas. The first stone built amphitheatre in Ancient Rome was called the Amphitheater of Statilius Taurus was built in 29 BC. The Roman Colosseum was built in 80AD

  • Nearly 30 types of gladiators have been identified

  • The role of the Gladiator became big business in the Roman Empire. Political careers could be launched on the back of spectacular games. Large sums of money could be won by gambling on the outcome of gladiator fights

  • The games organised by Julius Caesar, on the death of his daughter Julia, featured 320 matched pairs

  • Roman courts were given the authority to sentence criminals to death fighting as gladiators

  • Slaves, criminals and prisoners of war were forced into the roles of the first gladiators

  • By the period of the Roman Empire free men started to enrol as gladiators. Some were ex- soldiers, some wanted the adulation and the glory and some needed money to pay their debts. A Free gladiator was called Auctorati

  • Gladiators were allowed to keep any prizes or gifts they were given during gladiatorial games

  • Entrance to the gladiator games was free but spectators, between 50,000 - 80,000 were issued with tickets

  • Trainee gladiators were called Tirones or Tiro

  • Female Gladiators, some noble and wealthy, appeared in the arena

  • 42 different Roman Emperors witnessed the carnage at the Roman Colosseum

  • Catervarii was the name given to gladiators when they did not fight in pairs, but when several fought together

  • Bestiarii (Beast Fighters) were the gladiators who fought wild animals

  • The Praegenarii were the 'opening act gladiator'. This type of gladiator only used wooden swords, accompanied to festive music.

  • Elite types of Gladiators were the Rudiarius who were gladiators who had obtained their freedom but chose to continue fighting in gladiatorial combats

  • Gladiatorial schools "Ludi Gladiatorium". The gladiator schools also served as barracks, or in some cases prisons, for gladiators between their fights.

  • New Gladiators were formed into troupes called 'Familia gladiatorium' which were under the overall control of a manager (lanista)

  • At the end of the day the gladiators who had been killed were dragged through the Porta Libitinensis (Gate of Death) to the Spoliarium where the body was stripped and the weapons and armor given to the dead gladiatorís lanista.

  • Prospective gladiators (novicius) had to swear an oath (sacramentum gladiatorium) and enter a legal agreement (auctoramentum) agreeing to submit to beating, burning, and death by the sword if they did not perform as required .

  • Gladiators often had tattoos (stigma, from where the English word stigmatised derives) applied as an identifying mark on the face, legs and hands.

  • Trained gladiators joined formal associations, called collegia, to ensure that they were provided with proper burials and that compensation was given to their families.

  • The early enemies of Rome included the Samnites, the Thracians and the Gauls (Gallus) and gladiators were named according to their ethnic roots

  • Gladiators were always clothed and armed to resemble barbarians with unusual and exotic weapons and their fights depicted famous victories over barbarians and the power of the Roman Empire

  • One of the most famous gladiators was the Emperor Commodus (177-192 AD) who boasted that he was the victor of a thousand matches. The Roman Emperors Caligula, Titus, Hadrian , Cracalla, Geta and Didius Julianus were all said to have performed in the arena.

  • The Emperor Honorius, decreed the end of gladiatorial contests in 399 AD

  • The last known gladiator fight in the city of Rome occurred on January 1, 404 AD. 

Roman Colosseum
Gladiators

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