Roman Gladiators

Category: Gladiator
Last Updated: 25 May 2023
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The Gladiators in general were either condemned criminals, prisoners of war, slaves brought for the purpose of the games and people who volunteered on their own will. The gladiatorial games reached their peak between the 1st century BCE and the 2nd century CE. Men who committed a capital crime were sent to the gladiatorial arena without a weapon defending themselves with their bare hands. The men who did not commit a capital crime were sent to training schools called Ludi. The earliest training schools were in Campania.

At these schools they did not teach them to kill people but instead taught them to disable and capture their opponent. Criminals who trained in the schools were allowed to pick their own weapon and defence. If they survived a couple of years without dying they would receive freedom. The gladiators had to do what their owners (Lanista) told them to do otherwise they would be punished either by no food or beaten up. The gladiators were given adequate food supplies eating 3-4 times a day and received medical care.

The Roman militaries success in war meant a big haul in of prisoners of war for the use in the gladiatorial games. Men who entered the games by free will had to take an oath in which they had to agree to the consequences of the game. This oath was: Being branded. Being chained. Being killed by an iron weapon. To pay for their food and drink they received with their blood and to suffer things even if they did not wish to. In the morning season of the games the Bestiarii or combatants who were taught to fight against animals were sent into the ring to fend for their lives against animals such as lions, tigers and bulls.

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Thousands of animals were slaughtered due to this proceeding. After these battles, unlucky men who had committed capital crimes were executed in front of the whole crowd by a sword. The winner of the gladiator battles received a palm branch form the editor. If he was outstanding he may even receive a laurel crown and money but the most sought-after award was the wooden training sword or staff given by the editor. There were many different types of gladiators.

The Thracian gladiators were prisoners who were sent to Capua to train for the games in amphitheatres. Their uniform consisted of light leather for the body, little helmet, light shoes and a small round shield. They were trained to run around their opponents this is why they only had light gear. They had great mobility and stamina. Reziarius were equipped with a long net which was used to trip and trap their opponents, a fuscina (trident) which was their offensive weapon. They also had a small dagger which they used to give the final blow.

They wore leather for protection and no helmet or shield to deflect their opponents strikes this is why they had to by agile and fit. The Dimacheri had two short swords and only two short leather arm guards to protect themselves. Speed was their speciality, they ran around their opponent and quickly evaded them making the opponent tired before killing him. Sannita were part of the heavy uniform gladiators. They wore a metal plate to protect the chest a long shield, a helmet with a grid to cover the eyes and a long sword to attack.

These gladiators were slow but effective within the ring. The Generic gladiators had no particular skill they were used to fill up the space when the event went the whole day or more. Other types of gladiators include the Provocatores, Sesterziarii, Catervrii, Mirmillion, Essedarii, Paegnaria (dwarfs). The weapons of the gladiators consist of fascina(harpoon), galea(visored helmet), galerus(metal shoulder piece), gladius(sword), hasta(lance), iaculum(net), manicae(leather elbow or wrist bands),parma(round shield) ,scutum(large shield) and sica(curved scimitar).

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Roman Gladiators. (2017, Mar 19). Retrieved from

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