Do you remember the great movie by Ridley Scott with Russell Crowe? Colosseum gladiators are iconic figures for the city of Ancient Rome. But who were the Roman gladiators and what is their fame?
Roman gladiators: who were they?
The gladiator was a fighter of Ancient Rome. The name derives from gladio, the Latin word for the sword used during the fighting. The Colosseum gladiators were usually slaves or prisoners of war, or people condemned for committing some crime.
The duels between gladiators were born in Etruria and were later taken up by the Romans. Their origin is attributable to the munera, or public works created for the sake of the Roman people. The munera gladiatoria were public shows offered by wealthy people on certain occasions. Among these were gladiator games.
How the gladiators fought
Roman gladiators were pro at fighting. The familiae were the groups of gladiators trained by the lanists: in the schools they were taught how to die in the arena. At the entrance to the arena, the competitors went under the Emperor’s gallery and shouted: “Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant” (“Hail, Caesar! Those about to die salute thee”). The defeated gladiator had to know how to die with dignity, the winner instead made him swing his sword in the air before piercing the opponent’s neck. The public expressed their appreciation for the possibility of granting life or death, but the killing of a professional gladiator was rare. The winning gladiator would gain success and well-being, as well as the possibility of obtaining leave after a career of triumphs.
Starting from 105 BC the gladiator games in Rome became public. The gladiatorial shows increased during the Roman Empire and the Flavia dynasty erected the largest amphitheater in the world, the Flavian Amphitheater.
Inside the Colosseum the most important gladiatorial games were held. Prohibited by Constantine I, the games continued despite the prohibitions. Among the most requested fighters there were convicts and prisoners of war, coming from Thrace and Germany, for their strength and for having nothing to lose. For them, in fact, winner in gladiatorial shows means creating a career and a possible independence. There was numerous public participation, with frequent clashes between opposing factions.
Attending the dressing of Colosseum gladiators and taking on the role of the Emperor is also possible today. Such as? Through the Colosseum Tour with our Immersive Experience! A trip to Rome 2000 years ago thanks to Virtual Reality. Are you curious to know how the gladiators were prepared? Then book a tour now!