Roles of Gladiators in Roman Society

Topics: Gladiator, Ancient Rome, Roman Empire Pages: 5 (1735 words) Published: November 28, 2012
Gladiators were mostly unfree individuals either condemned criminals, prisoners of wars who had lost their citizenship rights, although, some of them were volunteers who were mostly freedmen or very low classes of freeborn men who chose to be a slave for monetary rewards or for the fame. Gladiators were brought for the purpose of gladiatorial combat and would endure branding, chains, flogging or death by the sword and subjected to a rigorous training, fed on a high-energy diet, and given expert medical attention. Gladiators were famously popular in ancient from for seven centuries, from the 3rd century BC to the 4th century AD fairly late in the Public occupied a prominent position in roman society, they would fight in massive amphitheatres, the most famous being the Colosseum in Rome. The games slowly transformed into spectator, a form of public execution and was seen by the public as entertainment in simpler, rougher times. It escalated as the Romans valued the art of killing and acted as a distraction for its citizens, allowed them to release their violent impulses and aggression within a completely separate social realm. We can assume that there were gladiatorial fights before this in Rome but were not recorded and the tradition of gladiatorial combats did not evolve in Rome but considered to have come from the Etruscans. The first recorded gladiatorial fight was in Rome during 264 BC at the funeral of Decimus Iunius Brutus Pera and was organised by his sons to pay honour to their deceased father. Three pairs of gladiators fought against each other to the death at his funeral pyre. It was believed that the ritually shed blood reconciled the dead with the living. We can assume that there were gladiatorial fights before this in Rome, but were not recorded and the tradition of gladiatorial combats did not evolve in Rome but considered to have come from the Etruscans. In Tomb 7 of the necropolis Gaudo near Paestum shows fighting between two men wearing attic helmets of South-Italian type, armour and shields attacking each other with spears. This painting could depict the early types of gladiators and provides evidence that suggest Campania may be the origins of gladiators since the first amphitheatre was built there. Also, the historians Livius, Strabo and Silius Italicus state that at Campanian banquets gladiators fought to entertain the evening party.

Gladiators were formed into troupes called “Familia gladiatorium” and owned by a person called Ianista who recruited, arranged for training and made decisions of where and when the gladiators fought. The gladiators were first asses by a Lanista, a doctor and gladiator trainers when entering gladiator school to commence training. Gladiator trainers who worked in schools were often retired gladiators who specialised in specific combat styles and weapons. There were different types of gladiators who focussed on different fighting styles and weapons that suited them. For example, those who fought in heavy armour weighed them down and were slower which made them require different techniques, while gladiators in light armour were fast and light. The gladiators did not wear Roman military amour since it would send the wrong political signal to the people. Instead they used the weaponry of non-Roman people, to play the role of the enemies. A wooden pole called a palus was used to practice moves with a sword, it allowed a gladiator o practise various strokes such as thrusting, cutting, and slicing. Trained gladiators had the possibility of surviving and even thriving. Some gladiators did not fight more than two or three times a year, and the best of them became popular heroes. After each fight they were paid, plus donations from the crowd and if he was able to outlive his opponents in the arena for 5 years, he would be free and granted citizenship which he could then become a gladiator trainer or a freelance bodyguard. Gladiators were distinguished by the kind of armour...
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