Gladiators (2010SP)

Page history last edited by SungMok 13 years, 6 months ago

                  Gladiators                       By Sung-Mok




            Did you know that gladiators were not just Romans? They came from all sorts of places like Gaul, Samnite, Thracia, and Briton. They were also slaves and servants from Rome, and owners could do whatever they wanted to do to their slaves whether they were bad or good. Gladiators were fierce fighters and they came from all different kinds of places and there were all different kinds.



            Gladiators had a lot of different origins, and mostly they came from armies or people defeated or conquered by the Romans. So most were prisoners of war, criminals, or slaves. Some of the conquered people were the Samnites, Thracians, and Gauls in early Rome. Later the Britons, Germans, Moors, and Africans were conquered. The criminals were accused of murder, arson (setting fire to property), robbery, or sacrilege (misusing something holy), so they were sent to fight. Even though this was unusual and cruel, owners who didn’t like their slaves, or didn’t like them just because they bored them, or who ran away or stole something would be sent to fight. Owners had a lot of money and power so nobody could stand up to them because all the high classed people loved to go to the gladiator fights. Later sending people to gladiator fights without a good reason was illegal.


            Gladiators didn’t always just appear and know how to fight. There were gladiator schools called ludi that trained the unworthy men into cold-blooded killing machines. The very first gladiator schools were in Campania, a province 100 miles south from Rome. Julius Caesar, a powerful leader owned a school in Capna that had enough armor for 5000 gladiators. So this an example of the high leaders that loved the gladiator fights. Rome had four big schools all built near the coliseum: The Great School (Ludus Magnus), The Gallic School (Ludus Gallicus), The Dacian School (Ludus Dacius), and the animal fighter school (Ludus Matutinus). Novices (Tiros) started their training with wooden swords on a straw man or a wooden post. Novices then used blunt iron weapons, then the real swords and weapons.


            There were many fierce gladiators, but there were a few very famous ones. Spartacus served in the Roman army and he many have deserted. He then leaded raids and was eventually caught and sold as a slave. The great Syrian gladiator, Flamma (The Flame) earned four Rudi. Rudi or rudius was a wooden baton that was given to gladiators that showed exceptional skill and bravery. Many gladiators after they were discharged or got a rudius came back from retirement to fight.


            Gladiator fights were exciting, but a few things could be overwhelming with the yelling and fighting. Gladiator shows were announced many days before and were advertised. A gladiator fight started with a sham fight with wooden swords and javelins. Before the real show began, a trumpet would be blown. There would be a lot of fights going on and when a gladiator was wounded the people would shout “Habet!” which meant, he is wounded. When the gladiator was down and he was obviously beaten he would hold up his index finger. When the crowd saw this they would either wave their handkerchiefs to signal to save him, or…. They would give him a thumbs down for…. death. If a gladiator survived for a few fights, in three years he could then stop. He could come back on free will. Many did come back since they could win large amounts of money and fame.


            There were a few types of gladiator fights, and you could tell that the Romans had a lot of time on their hands. The first sea fight (naumachia) was on a man made lake in 46 BC and Julius Caesar presented it. It had 1000 sailors and 2000 oar men. A sea battle was basically where numerous gladiators on ships fought to the death. But imagine that there were around 3000 men in the lake and it was a manmade lake. In 2 BC, Augustus had a naval battle to honor Julius Caesar and to out do him. It was dug next to the Tiber River and it was 1800 feet long, 1200 feet across. It also had parks and gardens around it. There was a cool island in the middle of the lake too! It had an amazing number of 6000 gladiators. It had even more oarsmen and 30 biremes and triremes. Biremes meant a ship with 2 galleys and tri, with 3 galleys. Wild animals shows were called venationes. 2nd century BC, they were very popular and a part of every public celebration. Wild animals shows usually were gladiators against the animals or the wild animals themselves fighting.


            The coliseum was a confusing place, and it was huge! In the coliseum there were four stories, the upper story was for the lower classes, and the lower stories were for the higher classes and citizens. Underground the coliseum there were all sort of mechanics and there were cages for the wild animals. But unfortunately an earthquake broke the south side of the coliseum in 847. When the naumachia was invented they dug a manmade lake, so later the cages were moved to another place.


            There were a lot of different kind of gladiators, and there were a lot of confusing names, but they are pretty cool once you understand them. A Samnite was a heavily armed gladiator, with a visor helmet and a rectangular shied called a Scutum. They had a straight sword called a Gladius and this was where the word gladiator came from. They wore leather or metal bands on their arms and their left leg. They had a high crest with feathers on their helmet. A Hoplomachus was another heavily armored gladiator and they were very similar to the Samnites. Archaeologists couldn’t tell the difference. All heavy gladiators in Augustus’s time were called Samnites, and Hoplomachi after. A Retarius or net fighter used a trident and a net and when he attacked he would entangle them and would stab them with his trident. He wore a headband and on his left arm he wore a large flat shoulder piece. Mirmillo or sometimes-called fish man was known for the fishes on his helmet. He wore a large round shield with a short sword. He was often paired with the Retarius who would try to catch him with his net. He was considered heavy armored because of his large round shield. A Thracian was lightly armored and had a small round of square shield called Parma. They wore a weird sword that was curved called a Sica. He had a large crest with a griffin on it. He had very tall leg guards on both legs and they always fought against a heavily armored gladiator. The last gladiator was called Secutor, which meant chaser. He had this name because he chased his opponents around the arena. He wore a round helmet with two small round holes, his helmet was round because his main opponent was the Retarius and that way it would be harder to entangle him with his net. He wore metal or leather bands on his right arm and a short sword or dagger. On his left he wore a large shield and a metal guard called an Ocrea on his left leg.


            Gladiators were involved in the society too, they weren’t just fighters. They were regular people living in the city of Rome also. Gladiators were considered the lowest of lowest classes. But gladiators were still a big part of society, and soon enough, The Roman culture had superstitions around them. A dead gladiators clothing would ward off evil spirits. A dead gladiator’s blood would be used in magic potions and medicinal ointment. A bride who parted with hair with a dead gladiator’s spear would have a happy marriage.


            But all things have to end, whether good or bad. When the Romans took up Christianity, gladiators were disliked. Later Constantine I abolished gladiatorial games in AD 325. But it still continued and later another emperor tried to abolish it, but it continued longer. It stopped after a hundred years.


            Gladiators were tough to the bone, and there was a reason why they were paid lots of money. Gladiators could fight with other gladiators, on ships, and with animals, pretty much everything. Also there were a lot of different kinds. So gladiators were Romans, Gauls, and who knows where, and they fought many things and they showed no mercy.

            Title _Gladiators_____________________________

  1. Introduction
    1. ___Gladiators came from all different places__________________________
    2. ___Owners could do anything to their slaves___________________________
  2. Body
    1. ___Gladiators had a lot of different origins___________________________
      1. __Many were prisoners of war, slaves, and criminals_____________
      2. ___Criminals were charged with….___________________________
      3. ___Owners could send their slaves to fight_____________________
      4. ____Later sending slaves without reason was illegal_____________
    2. ______Gladiators didn’t always know how to fight____________________
      1. __There were gladiator schools called ludi____________________
      2. ___The first gladiator schools were in….______________________
      3. ___Julius Caesar owned a school___________________________
      4. ___There were four schools___________________________
    3. _______There were many fierce gladiators_______________________
      1. __Spartacus served in the Roman army______________
      2. ___Great Syrian gladiator___________________________
      3. ___Rudius were…___________________________
      4. ____Some gladiators came back from retirement___________
  3. Conclusion
    1. _______Gladiators were tough to the bone_______________________
    2. _______So gladiators were…_______________________



"Colosseum, Rome." A View On Cities. Rome Attractions. Web. 01 Mar. 2010.

Watkins, Richard Ross. Gladiator. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Print.

Malam, John, and La Bédoyère, Guy. De. Gladiator: Life and Death in Ancient Rome. New York, NY: DK Pub., 2002. Print.

"gladiator." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 9 Mar. 2010



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