11 Truths About Roman Gladiators

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This brutal sport has its origin in Ancient Rome, until it grew in popularity & became a part of the Roman Empire’s history. Here are 11 truths about Roman Gladiators.

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Number 11 Origin of the Gladiator
The origins of gladiators can be traced back to the 3rd century BC and it was initially for the wealthy. Gladiatorial munera grew in popularity and before long gladiators were a part of state games, known as “ludi”, held during festivals.
Number 10 Gladiator Oath
Nevertheless, it was also an opportunity for people, of all classes, to make a name for themselves.
Number 9 Tool
Gladiator combat eventually became an integral part of life in Ancient Rome. The line between munus, the duty it began as, and ludi, games for public entertainment, virtually vanished. From that point on, the grandest and most celebrated games would be state-sponsored and associated with the emperor thus furthering his public recognition, approval and respect.
Number 8 Free Men and the Condemned
By some estimates, almost a fifth of those taking part in the games were free men who had voluntarily embraced a gladiator’s life. They would sign contracts with gladiator schools fuelled by hopes of fame and fortune.
Number 7
If they put on an entertaining show for the crowd, it wasn’t uncommon for both of them to be allowed to leave the arena. That being said, the life of a gladiator was typically short. Most didn’t make past their mid-twenties or past 10 bouts in the arena.
Number 6 Theatrical Flair
The Samnite, later renamed to secutor, was elegantly helmeted, heavily armed and probably the most popular type.
Number 5 Training
Even though their lives were full of hardship, gladiators were often well taken care of, particularly since they were regarded as an investment. They were regularly tended to by physicians and their high energy diet mostly consisted of dried fruit, boiled beans, barley and oatmeal. In a way that mirrors our contemporary treatment of professional athletes, those expected to emerge victorious received more attention from the staff at the gladiatorial school.
Number 4 Learning
It also provided a noble example of Roman virtue for those in attendance. If a wounded gladiator was brave, unflinching and defiant, as if he welcomed his opponent’s blade, it increased his chances of being shown mercy by the crowd.
Number 3 Paradox of Status
It’s a paradox that gladiators, who were amongst the lowest social classes, were so celebrated and revered in Roman society. Children had clay actionfigures of their favorite gladiators. Some rose to such fame that their names appeared on city walls and other public places.
Number 1 Bestiarii
There’s a distinction that’s typically made between bestiarii and gladiators. Bestiarii squared off against wild animals such as lions, leopards, tigers, bears, elephants, boars, wolves and others. These creatures were usually brought to the arena from far away territories under Roman rule.

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