The Ancient Roman Gladiatorial Games

2354 Words 10 Pages
Spectacle and thrill were a major component of life in the ancient Roman empire. The gladiatorial games could perhaps be considered the favorite form of entertainment among Romans at the time. The gladiators themselves came from a variety of different walks of life. Roman spectacle took place in arenas, and they occurred in a great deal of forms. The gladiatorial games are often confused with gladiatorial executions; however, the two are in fact quite different. One question that has intrigued academics for centuries is, “how could a society as advanced as the Romans be wooed by a spectacle as violent and gory as the gladiatorial games?” There are many answers to this question, one of them being that the games and spectacles were the main form …show more content…
In the early days of the gladiatorial games, the participants were largely slaves from conquered foreign lands or convicted criminals . However, one common misconception about gladiators is that they were all slaves forced into the arena against their will. From about 80 CE on, more and more men began training to be gladiators by their own free will2. As the gladiatorial games gained more notoriety and prestige, men from all walks of life saw competing as a way to earn glory and fame2. These voluntary gladiators varied from men trying to make a living to noblemen trying to prove the valor of their bloodline2. These men were so highly regarded in Roman entertainment that the most famous of gladiators had a status similar to modern day celebrities. The games had such high stakes of riches and glory that many of these voluntary gladiators spent a great deal of time training in gladiatorial schools2. The training that they received in these schools varied depending on what type of gladiator they were . There were four different categories of gladiators: elite, heavily armed, lightly armed, and unusual . Free gladiators, or Rudiarius, fell under the elite category of fighters4. Rudiarius became free by earning it through their success in the gladiatorial games, thus making them the most renowned and elite among their counterparts4. One example of a gladiator that had to be heavily armed were the Murmillones. These …show more content…
During this time period, the gladiatorial games were the crown jewel of the wildly popular, violent entertainment that took place in arenas across the empire. Roman gladiators came from a great deal of different backgrounds to prove themselves in the arena. Aside from the gladiatorial games, a plethora of other spectacles occurred in the arena as well. One important factor to keep in mind is that public executions are not to be confused with the gladiatorial games, as they are indeed different. Many scholars are fascinated with the Romans’ obsession with the violence of the gladiatorial games. There are multiple speculations about the origin of this fascination with violence that range from imperial pride to natural human behavior. Additionally, violent spectacle was central to the Roman way of life and could be considered the main form of entertainment during the empire. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that the gladiators of ancient Rome lived tumulus lives where they were either killed or achieved glory for the entertainment of the larger Roman

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