The Morning And Lunch Time
- In the morning of the games, the gladiators would parade in the Colosseum.
- But the morning's entertainment was dedicated to the animals.
- Some wild/exotic animals could be displayed, whilst others were hunted in venationes.
- Starving tigers, panthers, and lions were let out of cages to be confronted in long and dangerous chases by bestarius (beast fighters).
- For variety, animals were goaded to fight each other.
- An elephant versus bulls was a feature of games in 79BC.
- Sometimes criminals were exposed, unarmed, to the starving beasts.
- Nero famously fed Christians to the lions.
- Around midday there was light entertainment (many rich Romans would eat a light lunch).
- Comedians could perform to the crowds.
- There would be humorous mock gladiator fights fought between people with fake weapons and other novelty items.
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- A war trumpet would announce the serious business, where men killed.
- Usually pairs of gladiators fought but sometimes teams were larger.
- Gladiators were highly trained and skilful.
- The victorious gladiator would live to fight another day and, occasionally, popular fights were awarded the golden fight that freed them from fighting again.
- Many fights ended in the death of one of the contestants.
- Those that lost could plead for mercy.
- It is believed that giving the thumbs down actually meant that the gladiator should be spared and the thumbs up would condemn a man to death.
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Who Were Gladiators
- Most gladiators had no choice but to fight.
- Slaves, prisoners of war, or condemned criminals lived in barracks under a lanista (meant butcher and acted as a trainer).
- Gladiators were prized possessions; they had expert medical attention and good food to keep themselves strong.
- Gladiators were dressed to resemble barbarians.
- The more far-fetched the weapons/armour were, the more barbarous the gladiators seemed.
- This also made the fights a celebration of Rome's empire. The types of gladiators:
- Samnites: named after an Italian tribe conquered by the Romans.
- Retarius: had a trident/fish harpoon, a dagger and net attached to a cord to allow them to throw more than once. They resembled a fisherman so they fought murmillones.
- Murmillones: recognisable by a helmet depicting a fish.
- Thracians: carried a curved dagger and a small square or round shield and were regarded as being the most skilful of the gladiators.
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Why Did People Love The Gladiator Battles?
- Theatrics Of The Event:
- The games were extravagant and entertainment was varied.
- People had favourite gladiators and many gladiators became famous.
- The most enjoyable thing: deciding the fate of the losing gladiator.
- Big battles would be advertised in advance so wealthy Romans could be invited to watch the gladiator feast (for their final meal).
- Tickets were free but could be hard to come by, and the quality of seats would depend on the person's social status.
- Earlier events built up to the biggest and most ostentatious events.
- People selling their wares and snacks, men gambling and crowds anticipating blood created an atmosphere that Romans loved.
- The Courage, Athleticism, And Brutality Of Battle:
- Gladiators were extremely well-trained and athletic fighters.
- The courage of the gladiators pleased the crowds.
- The Roman writer Cicero, regarded it as a good lesson for society: "Did you ever see even a mediocre gladiator utter a groan or register pain on his face? That's strong discipline and training for you"
- Cowardly fighters were despised by the crowd and would be heckled.
- Some loved the brutality - they were guaranteed bloodshed and death.
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