Gladiator Games

Roman Colosseum

'The Roman Colosseum'

History, Facts and Information about Gladiator Games
The festivals of gladiator games held at the Colosseum could last for 100 continuous days. Romans wanted to be to be entertained. They wanted to see fabulous spectacles. They wanted to revel in the might and the power of Rome. The more spectacular the gladiator games meant the more popular the sponsors were.

Diversity in the Roman Gladiator Games
The Romans loved to be surprised. Novelty in the arena of the Roman Colosseum was valued. Different, exotic animals were on display supplying the novelty that the Romans craved and yet another reminder of the distance lands that had been conquered by ancient Rome. The gladiators were the 'star attraction'. But the games were also a venue for executing criminals and Christians and for staging beast fights and wild animal hunts. Romans loved to be reminded of the great victories they had won in battle. And the Gladiator games were often designed to re-enact scenes of these Roman victories. The Gladiator games at the Colosseum were planned with Roman precision. Every event was scheduled. Costumes, armor, weapons and scenery all had to be in place for the gladiator games held in the arenas in ancient Rome, such as the Colosseum.

Order of Events at the Gladiator Games
The order of events on the opening day of a festival of  gladiator 'games' started with the parades and processions called the Pompa. The gladiator games continued throughout the day with the following events:

  • Animal Hunts - These shows were called called venationes and the animal hunters were called venatores and replicated hunting scenes involving many different wild animals. Emperors joined in these events in gladiator games, shooting animals using a bow and arrows, albeit from the safety of their Imperial Box

  • The Bestiarii came next in the games. These were gladiators trained to fight savage beasts such as tigers and lions.

  • Criminals were sentenced to fight wild beasts at the games but without any skills, weapons or armor

  • Meridiani - lightly armed gladiators fought in the middle of the day, after the wild animal fights

  • The Andabatae were the hapless criminals who provided comic relief to the audience. They wore helmets without an openings for the eyes and fought blindfolded, manoeuvred closer and closer together by attendants, slashing blindly at each other

  • At noon the executions were scheduled at the games - the tortures and varieties of executions amused the crowd

  • Late afternoon the most important events of the day - the gladiatorial games and combats

  • The Gladiator fights started with the Praegenarii  who were the 'opening act' gladiators who fought with a whip, club and shield and these preliminaries would then be followed by the proper Gladiatorial games where there were various matched pairings of gladiators

  • Sometimes actual battles were re-enacted at the gladiator games

Different Types of Gladiator Games
There were different types of gladiator games. Nearly 30 different types of gladiators have been identified. Each demonstrating different skills and providing novelty for the 'mob'.

  • Gladiator games included those featuring various combinations of the following different types of gladiator:
    • Andabatae (Sight Restricted Gladiators)
    • Bestiarii (Beast Fighters)
    • Dimachaeri (Gladiators With Two Swords)
    • Eques(Horseback And Sword Gladiators)
    • Gallus (Gladiators With A Lance)
    • Essedari (War-Chariot Fighters)
    • Hoplomachi (Armed Fighters)
    • Laquerarii (Lasso Fighters)
    • Murmillones (Gladius and Shield Gladiators)
    • Naumachiarii ( Combatants in Sea-fights)
    • Provocatores (Challengers Protected by a Breastplate)
    • Retiarii (Net Fighters)
    • Rudiarius (Free Gladiators)
    • Sagittarius (Mounted Bowman)
    • Samnites: (Large Shields and Plumed Helmets)
    • Secutores (Two Small Eye-Holes in Helmet)
    • Scissores (Carvers - Short Swords)
    • Thracian, or Thrax (Curved Sword)
    • Velites (Spear Fighters)
  • Female gladiators also appeared as 'speciality acts' in gladiator games
Roman Colosseum

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