The very first recorded gladiatorial fight was at a burial of Julius Brutus in 264 B.C. His two sons Marcus and Decimus brought back an ancient custom of having slaves fight at the funeral. In which this sacrifice would please the Gods. Three slaves were ordered to fig to the death as many spectators watched. This led to become a large spectator event. As the years rolled on more and more slave fights at the funerals of Rome’s great leaders appeared.
The number of fighters also increased, as well as the number of viewers. This was thought to be a family name enhancer when large fights were held at the mans funeral. Gladiatorial games had a profound influence on the Roman Empire for hundreds of years.
First made a spectacle by the emperor Julius Caesar, the ruling class soon found that gladiatorial contests could appease the empire’s massive population. Entertaining the mob became a top priority for many of Rome’s rulers; they found that the Roman people approved of their emperor if they were kept amused.
As time progressed there were a number of factors that led to the decline of gladiatorial contests, and their eventual abolition. (Grant)
By the time of the Great Julius Caesar, all the direct ties to funerals and or religion were gone. These “gladiators” as they were now called fought to entertain. This was the idea of Caesar to keep the Roman citizens pleased. With much entertainment and suspense the people were living happily, brining the whole family to watch such gruesome events. This was the start of the great gladiatorial battles that Ancient Rome was so popular for. Caesar knew this and took control of all such events held for the public. This made him very powerful and wealthy. The ancient ritual that was for the gods was now for the entertainment of thousands of excited Romans who came to see blood spilled.
All gladiators had training when they were not in battle in the arena. This kept them busy and tired; they only got rest before a battle. It was possible for a gladiator to get out of this life long stage though. A slim number of gladiators, who had of course an unbeaten beaten record could get a pardon from the emperor, and even marry. Then he could retire, and be a freeman. This was slim though, most gladiators were captives for live and fought only to live another day. If they didn’t die in the arena they would die in the cells they stayed in.
Gladiators not only had hard and very self-dependant lives to uphold, but they also had a hard life in the arenas they fought in. There were many arenas all throughout the Roman Empire. The most know one would be the coliseum. This arena helps the most people at one time, more than almost any other structure in Roman history. Beaten only by the Great amphitheaters of Rome. The coliseum had a wood floor which was a very interesting factor because it held so much weight. It as well as many other arenas had secret trap doors under the sand on the arena floor. This would allow wild animals and other fighters on to the field more easily. Also some had a series of pathways under the floor which had the cages of fighters and of animals. These pathways were a connected tunnel group which led to elevators to go to the secret tap doors at the top of this underlying area. This made it more fun for the viewers. The gladiators had to face many opponents at one time and small wars were held to simulate battles won by Roman soldiers many years ago. (Grant)
These man to man spectacles were very exciting for the people of Rome but the favorite spectacles included wild and exotic animals! Many times gladiators were thrown into the arena to fight for theirs lives against lions, tigers, elephants and jaguars. These spectacles were known as Venations. They included sometimes women, children, and just men without weapons. The people of Rome were tired of the old wars they wanted more blood. Battles became more furious with more people who came and died. Eventually bodies were hard to dispose of. they were fed to the animals kept there and the extras were taken away from the city and burned. Yet, when these great blood baths with sometimes hundreds of animals and only a few men in the arena were not going on, there were sea battles! These were very popular in Rome because the Coliseum flooded its arena floors with water, and built actual sized ships which sailed with upwards of a couple of hundred men aboard! Such battles were few but very popular.
The first ever sea battle, constructed by Julius Caesar, was a man made lake outside of the city. This was upsetting to the people after awhile for they had to travel to such places. So inevitably they were moved to the Coliseum and fewer such battles were made. Eventually gladiatorial events declined until they were abolished almost seven- hundred years later. Countless numbers died in the arenas and many more exotic and wild animals too. This led to the belief that some ancient animal became extinct because of over killing. The eventual collapse of the Roman Empire helped to stop such events, and the fact that the empire was too big to handle with all its growing numbers of people. (Grimal) These shows, which were less gruesome, tried to keep going but eventually they became too boring and too expense to uphold. This was the end of the great Gladiator. Although the gladiator fell and ceased to existed their legacy, their great courage, and the recorded books of them still live on and are interesting to us today, as much as they were many years ago. In conclusion of this report, it should have described the gladiators themselves, how they lived, and the many battles/ problems they faced as being the lowest rank in the Roman society. They were tough men with tough lives. Their legacy and courage lives on within the many book and records of their tremendously brave deeds. They were look upon as many different things but always will be heroes. Also as social scientists we can take a good lesson from the past in understanding of human’s behavior towards various events, particularly towards the actions of fight and blood spilling. As in the past the same is in the present day’s situation that people like to watch action, danger and thrill. Some people even like to participate in those kinds of action, some don’t. But overall these spectacles are loved by humans and we can see that this addiction to thrill is very popular nowadays although in worse and more terrible forms because of the overall humankind progress.
Grant, Michael. History of Rome. New York: History Book Club, 1997.
“Gladiators.” October 2004: http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/Fountain/5832/gladi1.htm
Grimal, Pierre. “The World of Caesar.” Greece and Rome: Builders of our World. New York: National Geographic Society, 1968.
Hennessey, William J. “Coliseum.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1990 Ed., 8: 850.
Cite this Ancient History in Depth: Gladiators
Ancient History in Depth: Gladiators. (2017, Jan 23). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/gladiators/