Roman gladiators (2nd century)

Roman gladiators (2nd century)

Gladiators were combatants who entertained audiences in fights against each other or wild animals in ancient Roman arenas.



gladiator, Rome, slave, amphitheatre, Colosseum, Római Birodalom, arena, antiquity, wild animals, fighter, combat, armament, combatant, burial ceremony, history, Etruscan, imperial period, entertainment, custom

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  • Who were the gladiators in Ancient Rome?
  • What was the main function of gladiators?
  • Which social class did gladiators usually come from?
  • Is it true that there were also volunteers among the gladiators?
  • Is it true that the living conditions of slaves varied greatly in Ancient Rome?
  • On which island was the largest slave market of the Ancient times held?
  • Who was the leader of the largest slave rebellion in the History of the Roman Empire?
  • Where did the slave rebellion led by Spartacus break out?
  • In which town did the slave rebellion led by Spartacus break out?
  • Who led the army that finally beat the forces of Spartacus?
  • What was the result of the slave rebellion led by Spartacus?
  • Is it true that gladiators fighting each other always had identical weapons?
  • When did the slave rebellion led by Spartacus take place?
  • Which island was the hotbed of many slave rebellions in Ancient times?
  • What was NOT one of the means for a citizen of Ancient Rome to acquire a slave?
  • Where did gladiator fights usually take place?
  • How did the Emperor signal his decision about the fate of the defeated gladiator?
  • Which gesture of the Emperor meant the death of the defeated gladiator?
  • What does the expression ‘Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant!’ mean?
  • Is it true that there had been gladiator fights already in Etruscan times, but those fights took place during burial ceremonies, on the tombs of the dead?
  • What is the origin of the word ‘gladiator’?
  • What was the reward of the winning gladiator after his first fight?
  • Is it true that Roman citizens had the right to own gladiators?
  • Is it true that female gladiators never fought in the arena?
  • Which one was the largest gladiator school in Ancient times?
  • How much water was needed to fill the Colosseum for the re-enactment of naval battles?
  • Is it true that gladiator schools, blacksmiths’ workshops and chambers for dead bodies surrounded the Colosseum?
  • Which animal was not used in gladiator fights?
  • Is it true that Christians were thrown to wild beasts in the arena of the Colosseum in the 2nd century AD?
  • During gladiator fights it was strictly forbidden to stab the enemy in the stomach. Why?
  • Is it true that the weapons were chosen for the gladiators according to their physical abilities?
  • What did the winner of a gladiator fight receive?
  • How was the Emperor’s death sentence carried out on the losing gladiator?







In fight



The word ‘gladiator’ comes from the Latin word ‘gladius’ meaning sword. Gladiators were combatants who entertained audiences at public events in fights against each other or wild animals.

Gladiator fights originate from an Etruscan tradition: they fought over the graves of the deceased, as a part of the burial ceremonies. Gladiator combat was common in the Republican era, but the heyday of this cruel tradition was during the Roman Empire. Most gladiators were prisoners of war, slaves or volunteers, who fought for their lives in amphitheatres for the enjoyment of the spectators.

Gladiators were trained in gladiator schools. They were armed with various weapons. Rules of gladiator combat usually stated which types of gladiators could fight each other.

A Murmillo, who carried a large rectangular shield and short sword, usually fought a Thraex, wielding a small square shield and a short, curved blade.

Another popular type was the Retiarius, equipped with a fishnet and a three-pointed trident.

He usually fought a Secutor, who was only different from the Murmillo in his helmet: a Secutor only had two eye-holes in his helmet.

There were also some women among the gladiators, having appeared during the reign of the Emperor Nero.

Gladiator fights became an integral part of the history and culture of ancient Rome. The memory of this cruel and violent form of entertainment is preserved by the famous, or infamous, Colosseum in Rome, where thousands of people and animals were killed in the fights.

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