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Reprieve of a Gladiator

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History, Facts and Information about Reprieve of a Gladiator

The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about the reprieve of a Gladiator. Not all gladiator fights were fought to the death. If a combat ended in a draw or the lose fought bravely and well it was possible that a grant would be made for the reprieve of a gladiator.

Reprieve of a Gladiator - the Language of the Arena and Gladiators
To fully understand the process which led to the reprieve of a Gladiator it is necessary to understand the language of the arena and the gladiators. There were correct processes which accompanied all the stages of the fights in the arenas of Ancient Rome. The following table describes the language of the arena and the gladiators with explanations and descriptions of the various elements of the ceremonies and procedures adopted in the arenas of the Ancient Romans. These definitions will help to clarify the reprieve of a gladiator:

  • Missio: A Roman gladiator who acknowledged defeat could request the munerarius (giver or 'editor' of the games) to stop the fight with the repieve of the gladiator and send him alive (missus) from the arena.

  • Sine missione: Some contests were designated ahead of time as sine missione (meaning "without release," i.e. to the death). In these circumstances for anyone to grant the reprieve of a gladiator

  • Stans missus: A gladiator who had not fallen he could be "sent away standing" (stans missus). The decision as to whether a gladiator was given a reprieve was in the hands of the spectators. The Editor or emperor, followed the demands of the 'mob' and not his own wishes

  • Pollice verso: Pollice verso meaning "With thumb turned." This referred to the gesture given by the 'mob' as to whether the reprieve of a gladiator was in order or that they demanded his death. Although it is assumed that Pollice verso meaning "With thumb turned." meant that the thumbs down position although this could have meant that the thumb was turned to the side. This signal and their shouting indicated whether or not a gladiator should be given a reprieve - granted missio.

  • Pugnare ad digitum: Pugnare ad digitum meaning "To fight to the finger." The situation where a gladiator submitted by raising his finger, or his hand, or whole arm) to signal the munerarius to stop the fight, hoping for a reprieve.

  • Liberatio: Liberatio meaning the freeing of a gladiator who had served his time

  • Acta Diurna: The Acta Diurna (meaning Daily Acts) was the Roman daily paper which contained news of gladiatorial contests. The popularity of a gladiator would be helped by publicity which could lead to a reprieve if necessary

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