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The Roman Colosseum Paper

2111 words - 9 pages

Roman Gladiators
From stick fighting, to machine guns, fighting has always been a part of the human nature to fight when you are mad, upset, or forced. Most humans have always enjoyed watching these fights. Here we are in Rome, in the Coliseum, gladiators battling to the death, or defeat. Humans fighting wild lions, and tigers, it’s a fight for life.

Like sporting events in many ancient cultures, Roman gladiatorial combat originated as a religious event. The Romans claimed that their tradition of gladiatorial games was adopted from the Etruscans, but there is little evidence to support this. The Greeks, in Homer's Iliad, held funeral games in honor of the fallen Patroklos. The games ...view middle of the document...

At this point, gladiatorial games expanded beyond religious events, taking on both political and ludic elements in Rome.
In general, gladiators were condemned criminals, prisoners of war, or slaves bought for the purpose of gladiatorial combat by a lanista, or owner of gladiators. Professional gladiators were free men who volunteered to participate in the games. In The Satyricon, Petronius suggested that Roman crowds preferred combat by free men over that of slaves. For example, the character of Echion is excited about games in which free men, "not a slave in the batch," will fight. Though low on the social scale, free men often found popularity and patronage of wealthy Roman citizens by becoming gladiators. The emperor Augustus sought to preserve the pietas and virtus of the knight class and Roman senate by forbidding them to participate in gladiatorial combat. Later, Caligula and Nero would order both groups to participate in the games.

Romans citizens legally derogated as infamus sold themselves to lanistae and were known as auctorati. Their social status was neither that of volunteers nor condemned criminals, or slaves. Condemned criminals, the damnati ad mortem who committed a capital crime, entered the gladiatorial arena weaponless. Those criminals who did not commit a capital crime were trained in private gladiator schools, ludi. At these private and imperial schools, gladiators became specialist in combat techniques that disabled and captured their opponents rather than killed them quickly. Criminals trained in gladiator schools fought with the weapons and armor of their choice and could earn their freedom if they survived three to five years of combat. Though a gladiator was only required to fight two or three times a year, few survived the three to five years.

As a gladiator, a man gained immediate status even though the gladiatorial oath forced him to act as a slave to his master and "to endure branding, chains, flogging, or death by the sword”. Gladiators were required to do what their lanista ordered and therefore were revered for their loyalty, courage and discipline.

Each gladiator was allowed to fight in the armor and with the weapons that best suited him. They wore armor, though not Roman military armor as this would send the wrong political signal to the populous. Instead gladiators wore the armor and used the weaponry of non-Roman people, playing the role of Rome's enemies. For instance, a gladiator might dress as a Samnite in Samnite garb that included a large oblong shield, a metal or boiled leather grieve on the left leg, a visored helmet with a large crest and plume, and a sword. The gladiatorial garb for other rolls were:

A Thracian - wore ocrea on both legs, carried a small square shield, wore either a full visored helmet or an open faced helmet with a wide brim, and carried a curved Thracian sword with an angled bend in the blade;
A Secutor - took his name from the term for "pursuer" and fought...

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