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Gladiators in ancient Rome

First gladiator games
In the first 500 years of her existence there where no gladiator-games in Rome. The first time such games are reported were in 264 bc by Valerius Maximus (2.4.7) and by Livius (23.30) in 215 bc at the Forum Romanum. Possibly these games were a habit of the Etruscans and were now introduced in Rome, but that is far from certain since there are no pictures of gladiators found in the Etruscan graves. A certainty is that these games would become very popular in Rome and the entire Roman world. Each time an important Roman died his heirs would celebrate with every time more pairs of gladiators. This became so popular that in time gladiator games were organized even without a funeral. The first time this happened was after a number of bad portents, when the aediles decided to organize gladiator-games instead of circus-games. (Cassius Dio 47.40)

Types of gladiators in ancient Rome
The word gladiator means the man who wields a gladius and the gladius of course is the famous short sword the Roman legionnaires used. But as can be seen at the picture beneath, there were more types of arena fighters. In the arena the Romans would pair them in a way that different types would fight each other. They believed that to be more interesting. The most common types where:

                      Gladiators


Most gladiators were slaves
In the times gladiator games were organizes by rich persons and not by a government. The gladiators often were slaves owned by that family or maybe acquired especially for the games. Later when it became common that the aediles organized the games, gladiators could also be condemned criminals, who could postpone their death by giving a good show. In time there appeared special schools for training the gladiators. The most famous one in Capua. Having such a concentration of well trained men, formed a great risk as showen the slave revolt organized by Spartacus

Amphitheaters in Rome
Gladiator games were initially held in places like the Forum Romanum and other spacey places. Those places had to be arranged before the game could be held. In time amphitheaters were erected in the country. One of the first is the rediscovered amphitheater in Pompeii. Rome itself had to wait a very long time. Until emperor Vespasianus ordered (and paid for) the construction of the Amphitheatrum Flavium the Romans still had to go to the Forum to see these games. Since the middle ages this theatre is called the Colosseum. Look here for nice pictures of the Colosseum

Click on the thumbs below to see more gladiators and amphitheaters

Retiarius    
      Provocator
Museum Leiden    
 
Retiarius    
    Retiarius
Museum Leiden    
 
Retiarius    
     Retiarius
Museum Leiden    
 
Gladiator    
   Gladiator
Louvre Paris    
 
Taraco amphitheatre

Tarraco
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Italica amphitheatre

Italica
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El Djem amphitheatre

El Djem (Tunisia)
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Taraco amphitheatre

Pompeii
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The popularity of the gladiators in ancient Rome's
More and more grew the popularity of the shows, as did the number of gladiators to perform in one show. In his time as an aedile (65bc) Julius Caesar wanted to stage a show (still in the Forum Romanum) with 320 pairs of gladiators. The senate already fearing for his popularity didn't allow this, because they feared the mass of trained killers in Rome. (There was no police force in Rome in that time). Later, once dictator, he would as yet organize the shows.
Constantine the greatThe popularity spread all over the empire and in the furthest corners amphitheaters would be built./p>

The end of the gladiator shows
First when the economy worsened and the money ran out, the number of shows and gladiators in one show diminished. Emperor Constantine the great attempted to put an end to the shows without much result. Only when the numbers of the public wanting to attend these shows diminished too, the shows would one by one be stopped. But the bloody animal shows and the public executions would be continued for some decades.




Constantine the great
Musei Capitolini Roma



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