Presentation on theme: "Gladiators held the status of slaves, but were lauded like modern sports superstars. Their arena winnings could make them fabulously wealthy and attract."— Presentation transcript:
Gladiators held the status of slaves, but were lauded like modern sports superstars. Their arena winnings could make them fabulously wealthy and attract scores of admiring women. A combination of strength and vulnerability, gladiators would pave the way for later warriors. Roman gladiators were armed in a variety of styles, designed to mimic mythical figures and Rome’s past enemies. Gladiators were matched to make their fights exciting and entertaining.
Gladiators did not usually choose their profession - it chose them. Slaves, prisoners of war and condemned criminals were first in line to be taken up by a lanista, a trainer who would purchase gladiator candidates and then sell them or rent them out for use in combats staged by wealthy individuals or public officials. Arson, murder, mutiny and bankruptcy were among the acts that could win a sentence of "damnatio ad ludum" or "condemned to the gladiator schools." (As demand for gladiators increased, this judgment became more frequent.) On the other hand, those citizens simply drawn by the potential for prize money and popular acclaim could volunteer to become a gladiator and receive a sign-on bonus. In surrendering their liberty and rank as Roman citizens, however, they were looked down upon.
There were female gladiators until they were banned by Emperor Septimus Severus in 200 AD from fighting as gladiators. Women did become -often of their own accord - gladiators, fighting other women or male dwarfs. However, though a male gladiator's social rank was low, a woman's was even lower. The satirical writer Juvenal scoffed, "What modesty can be looked for in some helmeted vixen, a renegade from her sex, who thrives on masculine violence - yet would not prefer to be a man?"
Student gladiators started out with wooden swords to do battle with a wooden pole called a palus, then moved on to a straw dummy before practicing footwork, thrusts and feints on fellow students. Ex-gladiators acted as instructors (doctores) and provided coaching in the fighting techniques and weapons of specific gladiator roles. As gladiator games grew, imperial ludi (schools) became the only institutions authorized to instruct novices in the gladiator craft. The ludi were spread throughout the Roman empire. Rome featured three (Ludus Magnus, Ludus Gallicus, Ludus Dacicus), the largest of which, Ludus Magnus, was connected to the Colosseum by an underground passageway.
Life at gladiator school was tough. Gladiator schools were closely guarded - Spartacus's famous revolt in 73 BC had started in a school in Capua and the government did not want a repeat. Living quarters were organized like cells in a prison; Pompeii's gladiator school contained a prison with sitting-room only. No real weapons were allowed inside the school, nor were gladiators-in- training allowed to exit. At the same time, to guarantee a return on their investment, gladiator owners had an interest in making sure their fighters lived long. Medical staff included dieticians and masseurs. (Galen, the most famous of Roman doctors and personal physician to Emperor Marcus Aurelius, got his start as a doctor at a gladiator school in Asia Minor.) Gladiators ate three high- protein meals a day consisting of barley grains (thought to protect the arteries with fat and prevent bleeding to death), boiled beans, oatmeal and, ash, believed to help fortify the body. Gladiators were often called hordearii or "barley men."
Gladiators took common roles. Trainers at gladiator schools would make the decision of what role a gladiator was best suited to play. The five main roles were (1)Thracian, (2)Samnite, (3)Retarius, (4)Murmillo and (5)Secutor. But gladiators could also fight as: Dimachaerus (two- sworded gladiator with no shield); Laquearius (fought with a lasso and perhaps a dagger); Eques (fought on horseback with a lance); Essedarius (fought from a moving chariot); Provocator (only gladiator to wear a full breastplate of armor); Andabatus (wore a helmet without eye holes). Gladiators could also be selected to be a venator or bestiarius -- an animal fighter - though this required separate training, perhaps at Rome's Ludus Bestiariorim. One of the more dazzling displays for games audiences was to see gladiators dressed as enemies of Rome - Greeks and Persians - fighting in naval battles (naumachia) in a flooded arena
Gladiators had a slim chance of survival. Most gladiators died young. The celebrity fighter Flamma died at the age of 30 after winning 21 of 34 fights. Another respected fighter, Felix, was one of the more long-lived, dying at age 45 after receiving Roman citizenship. Aside from his own skill, how a gladiator's fight went depended largely on the crowd. Once a gladiator could fight no more, he would raise his left hand to the emperor or the highest public official present. At that point, the emperor looked to the crowd for their recommendation. If they showed thumbs down and shouted "Iugula!" (Cut his throat!), he was killed. If they showed thumbs up and shouted "Mitte!" (Release him!), he was allowed to leave the arena and have his wounds treated. However, at the same time, some celebrity fights are thought to have been fixed. To ensure that a slain gladiator was actually dead, a slave dressed as the Etruscan demon, Charon, would knock him on the head with a hammer. The slain gladiator was then dragged from the arena through the Gate of Death and slaves raked over the arena to prepare it for the next fight.
Gladiators who won in the arena were presented with palm branches and a bowl, usually made of silver, containing gold coins. If they continued to win fights and their fame grew, they could receive additional gifts. The Emperor Nero, a hard-core devotee of gladiator games, gave a palace to the gladiator Spiculus. Other gladiators were promoted to form the personal guard of Mark Anthony. If the crowd voted for his retirement, a gladiator could stop fighting. This was something, though, that was only offered to the most successful of gladiators. The symbol of the event was a wooden sword, known as a rudis, was given to the gladiator by the emperor. Only one gladiator, Flamma, is known to have ever turned down retirement - an incredible four times. After a few years, gladiators might be sent to work in the gladiator schools for several more years. Rich gladiators could retire to a life of ease. Emperor Tiberius (14-37 AD) once offered 1,000 gold coins to retired gladiators who would agree to return to the arena.
Gladiators received popular acclaim. Successful gladiators could enjoy a following not far different from what modern athletes command today. The Roman Empire valued military exploits above all else and the ability of a fighter to face death without flinching was highly revered. Gladiators were featured in wall mosaics, oil lamps and other ornaments. Rich women flocked to the banquets held for gladiators on the eve of their games. Procuring female companions was no problem for the victorious gladiator. Emperor Commodus gave one of the most potent displays of the extent to which gladiators could command the respect of their audience. Rumored to be the son of a gladiator, Commodus fought a reported 300 times as a gladiator, dressed as the god Hercules and showing a particular like for taking on wild animals such as tigers and elephants.
The most common type of gladiator was probably the Samnite warrior who was the heaviest armored gladiator. They took their name, costume and weapons from the mighty warriors of Samnium, a region in southern Italy conquered by Rome. The Samnite gladiator wore an imposing helmet with crest and visor. He used a large oblong shield called a scutum, similar to those of Roman legionaries but possibly tapered towards the bottom to render it more agile. Besides the helmet, the Samnite gladiator also wore armored protection over his right arm and left leg. They had a short gladius sword.
The Thracian gladiator was considered lightly armored. Thracian gladiators were modeled after fighters from the northern Greece region of Thrace. Their strategy focused on their sword, which was fashioned to snake past heavier opponents' shields. The Thracian was equipped with a broad-rimmed helmet that enclosed the entire head, a small round or square-shaped shield, and two thigh-length greaves. He carried a very small round or square shield called parma and a very curved sword called sica. The sica was a brutal gladiator weapon. He wore leg guards on both legs and these guards they were very tall, covering up to the tops of his thighs. Thracians always fought heavily armored gladiators. The armor and dash with which Thracians performed their fights made these among the most popular of gladiators.
The gladiator Retiarius (net fighter in English), fought with a trident (a 3 pronged fishing spear) and a net!! He fought as a fisherman with deadly purpose. In contrast to other gladiators, the Retarius wore no helmet and very little armor. He had only on his left shoulder a metal shield protection called galerus and his arm was protected with leather or metal. No helmet or shield... but he was very light and fast. A leather belt provided some protection to his abdomen and an arm guard with a shoulder shield on his left arm protected one side. Speed and dexterity were his strategic advantages. The Retarius gladiator would use his lead- weighted net to ensnare an opponent and then move in for the kill with his trident. If his cast missed its object, the Retarius could retrieve it via an attached cord. The Retarius would often chant to his opponent “I seek not you, I seek a fish. Why do you flee from me?”
The Murmillo was also called the fish man. This gladiator is thought to have been derived from the dress and weapons of prisoners of war from the conquered Gauls who had been living in northern Italy. It was identified by images of scales on his helmet. He wore a high-crested, broad-rimmed helmet similar to the shape of a fish, with a perforated face mask. He used a short sword and greaves (shin armor); and leather or linen armor for the sword arm. In the other arm he carried a big, round shield that protected his unarmored legs. Although he looks unprotected, the Romans classified him as a "heavy" gladiator because of his large shield. He often had to fight against a Retiarius. It is kind of ironic, because Retiarius' tried to catch their opponent in a net!
The gladiator Secutor (chaser in English), got his name from his fighting technique. In fact, he used to chase his opponent around the arena. The Secutor was specially trained to fight a retarius. The very distinctive helmet of the Secutor had only two small eye-holes, in order to prevent a Retiarius's trident from being thrust through the face, as well as a rounded top, so as not to get caught in a net. The flanges protecting his neck were smooth and shaped like fish fins for this purpose. Because of the weight and lack of space in the helmet, the Secutor had to be quick, unless he fall to exhaustion or faint due to breath constrictions. The Secutor's entire left side was protected by a heavy curved shield and a metal leg guard. The secutor wore a loincloth, and a wide belt (much like the retiarius). On his right arm, he wore a manicae (a heavy linen or metal wrapping tied with leather thongs), and on his left leg, he wore a ocrea (a greave made of boiled leather or metal). He also carried a scutum (a curved rectangular shield) to protect himself.manicaescutum