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Stefan Morrone

on 28 April 2011

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Historical Summary

Defintion: the term comes from the Latin word meaning 'sword', gladius; gladiators were condemned criminals, prisoners of war, or slaves bought for the purpose of gladiatorial combat by a lanista, or owner/trainer of gladiators; gladiators could also be free men who voluteered to fight. ("Gladiator")


Gladiatorial games originated as a religious event in Rome.

The Roman historian Livy wrote about the first known gladiatorial games, which were held in 310 BC by the Campanians.

These games symbolized the re-enactment of the Campanians' conquering of the Samnites, in which they were aided by the Romans.

The first Roman gladiatorial games were held in 246 BC by Marcus and Decimus Brutus in honor of their father, Junius Brutus, as a munus or funeral gift for the dead.

It was a small event that included the combat of three pairs of slaves in a cattle market.

From their religious origins, gladiatorial games evolved into defining symbols of Roman culture and became an integral part of that culture for nearly seven centuries. ( The Roman Gladiator History and Origins) in 183 BC it was traditional to hold gladiatorial games in which 60 duels took place in the arena. By 65 BC, Julius Caesar had upped-the-ante by pitting 320 ludi, or pairs of gladiators, against one another in a wooden amphitheater constructed specifically for the event. At this point, gladiatorial games expanded beyond religious events, taking on political elements in Rome. Who were the Gladiators?

In general, gladiators were condemned criminals, prisoners of war, or slaves bought for the purpose of gladiatorial combat by a lanista, or owner of gladiators. Professional gladiators were free men who volunteered to participate in the games.

Condemned criminals, the damnati ad mortem who committed a capital crime, were forced to enter the gladiatorial arena weaponless. Those criminals who did not commit a capital crime were trained in private gladiator schools, ludi. At these private and imperial schools, gladiators became specialists in combat techniques that disabled and captured their opponents rather than killed them quickly. Criminals who trained in these schools used weapons and armor of their choice and could earn their freedom if they survived three to five years of combat. Though a gladiator was only required to fight two or three times a year, there were very few survived the three to five years. As a gladiator, a man gained immediate status even though the gladiatorial oath forced him to act as a slave to his master and "to endure branding, chains, flogging, or death by the sword". Gladiators were required to do what their lanista ordered and therefore were revered for their loyalty, courage and discipline.

Gladiatorial Training

Gladiatorial training can be compared to the training of today's professional athletes.

Gladiators received medical attention and three meals a day. Their training included learning how to use various weapons, including the war chain, net, trident, dagger, and lasso.

Each gladiator was allowed to fight in the armor and with the weapons that best suited him. They wore armor(but not Roman military armor in order to avoid sending the wrong political message to the populous). Instead gladiators wore the armor and used the weaponry of non-Roman people, playing the role of Rome's enemies. For instance, a gladiator might dress as a Samnite in Samnite garb that included a large oblong shield (scutum), a metal or boiled leather grieve (ocrea) on the left leg, a visored helmet (galea) with a large crest and plume, and a sword (gladius). ( The Roman Gladiator Training and Combat) The gladiatorial garb for other roles were:

A Thracian - wore ocrea on both legs, carried a small square shield, wore either a full visored helmet or an open faced helmet with a wide brim, and carried a curved Thracian sword with an angled bend in the blade;

A Secutor - took his name from the term for "pursuer" and fought virtually naked and bald, carrying a large oval or rectangular shield and a sword or dagger, wearing an ocrea on the left leg, leather bands at the elbow and wrists (manicae), and a round or high-visored helmet;

A Retiarius - symbolized the fisherman and wore only a loin cloth (subligaculum) and a metal shoulder-piece (galerus) on the left arm, and carried a net (iaculum), a dagger, and a trident or tunny-fish harpoon (fascina). One variation on the Retiarius was the Laquearii who carried a lasso instead of a net.

Gladiators were paid each time they fought. If a gladiator survived three to five years of combat they were freed. Gladiators fought in arenas, the most famous of which was the Colosseum built by the Flavians. When one of the opponents in a contest was wounded, the crowd would typically shout “habet, hoc habet,” or "he has had it". An opponent who felt he was defeated would raise his left hand with one finger extended as a request for mercy. It is not clear how the vote of life or death for the defeated opponent was decided though it may have involved the thumb. If the decision was for death, the defeated opponent would ceremoniously grasp the thighs of his conqueror who would then slay the loser by stabbing his sword into his neck. The dead body was removed by costumed attendants, one of which was dressed as the ferry man Charon, and the other as Mercury. Charon struck the dead body with a hammer and Mercury poked the body with a hot iron disguised as his wand to assure the loser was dead. The winner would receive a symbol of their victory, such as a golden bowl, crown, or gold coin, along with a palm leaf symbolizing victory.
In ancient Rome, gladiators could earn the idolized status of a hero, like many modern athletes. Even though a gladiator's social status was barely better than a slave, many Roman citizens, knights, and even Roman emperors fought in the gladiatorial arena because of their love of the bellicose sport and their desire for adoration. The emperor Commodus boasted that he himself had fought in over 1,000 gladiatorial duels. The gladiators were the heroes of their time, especially during the years of peace under the Augustans in the first and second centuries. Without war heroes, Rome needed someone to idolize and this role fell to the gladiators.

There is evidence that Roman women especially idolized gladiators, sometimes to the dismay of their husbands. (The Roman Gladiator Public Perception of Gladiators) Another form of gladiatorial combat involved the "hunting" and slaying of wild animals, call the venatio, or hunt.

Exotic wild beasts from the far reaches of the Roman empire were brought to Rome and hunts were held in the morning prior to the afternoon main event of gladiatorial duels. The hunts were held in the Forum, the Saepta, and in the Circus Maximus, though none of these venues offered protection to the crowd from the wild animals on display.

Special precautions were taken to prevent the animals from escaping these venues, such as the erection of barriers and the digging of ditches. Very few animals survived these hunts though they did sometimes defeat the bestiarius, or hunters of wild beast. Thousands of wild animals would be slaughtered in one day. For instance, at the games Trajan held when he became emperor, over 9,000 animals were killed. (The Roman Gladiator: The Venatio) Animals that appeared in the venatio included lions, elephants, bears, deer, wild goats, dogs, and camels. Some of these animals were trained and instead of fighting performed tricks. Those that did battle with the animals, the bestiarii, were usually criminals and would have to fight the animals without weapons or armor. These were the lowest class of participants in the games.
Female Gladiators

Women once competed in the gladiatorial arena though not without controversy. It is known that the Roman emperor Septimius Severus, who ruled from 193 to 211 CE, allowed women to fight as gladiators but banned the tradition in 200 CE. (The Roman Gladiator Female Gladiators) Gladiators & Slaves
By: Antonio Petrolo, Daniel Borrelli and Stefan Morrone
Secutor Retiarus Gladiators Slaves Slavery was practiced throughout the ancient world including Rome. Most slaves during the Roman Empire were foreigners and, unlike in modern times, Roman slavery was not based on race.

Slaves in Rome included prisoners of war, sailors captured and sold by pirates, or slaves bought outside Roman territory. In hard times, it was not uncommon for desperate Roman citizens to raise money by selling their children into slavery. All slaves and their families were the property of their owners, who could sell or rent them out at any time. Their lives were harsh because they were often whipped, branded or cruelly mistreated. Their owners could also kill them for any reason, and would face no punishment under the law.

Although Romans accepted slavery as the norm, some people – like the poet and philosopher, Seneca – argued that slaves should at least be treated fairly.

Slaves worked everywhere – in private households, in mines and factories, and on farms. They also worked for city governments on engineering projects such as roads, aqueducts and buildings. (The Roman Empire: in the First Century. The Roman Empire. Social Order. Slaves & Freemen) Slave Revolts

Roman conquests in Carthage, Greece and Macedonia brought many new slaves to Rome and destabilized the Roman class system when they revolted against oppression.

The greatest examples are the rebellin of Spartacus in 70 BC as well as the Servile wars in the first and second century BC. (Roman Slavery)
Daily Life of a Slave

A slave’s day began at daybreak. If his master lived in a cold climate, the first job of the day would be to fire up the hypocaust (Roman system of central heating). When his master awoke, a slave would be expected to help him get dressed. When the day properly began, a whole group of slaves started set tasks, such as walking children to school, cleaning a villa, washing clothes, tidying a garden etc. A group of slaves would work in a kitchen preparing the day’s meals. When a rich family bathed at home, slaves would help out by drying them once they had finished and dressing them. When a master moved around, slaves would carry him in a litter. When a master entertained others, slaves would ensure a constant supply of food and drink. If guests had to return home and it was dark, a slave or slaves would walk ahead of them with a lighted torch. (Roman Slaves) Conclusion

Gladiators and slaves were both key aspects of the Roman society

Gladiators were viewed as both heroes and entertainment by the Roman people

Slaves were important in day to day society because they fulfilled tasks that were assigned by their masters and became important status symbols throughout Roman society.Slaves helped their masters with tasks that the average citizen today would have no trouble accomplishing. http://huehueteotl.wordpress.com/2007/05/03/roman-gladiator-graves-uncovered/ http://wuntk.synthasite.com/types-of-gladiators.php http://wuntk.synthasite.com/types-of-gladiators.php http://library.thinkquest.org/C005121/data/romans3.htm Thracian Bce, 65. "The Roman Gladiator History & Origins." AbleMedia LLC - A Knowledge
Company. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. <http://ablemedia.com/ctcweb/consortium/gladiator1.html>.

“Gladiator” Classics Technology Center AbleMedia Web 24 April 2011

“Roman Slavery." UNRV History - Roman Empire. Web. 24 Apr. 2011.

"Roman Slaves." History Learning Site. Web. 24 Apr. 2011.

"The Roman Gladiator: Female Gladiators." AbleMedia LLC - A Knowledge Company.
Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <http://ablemedia.com/ctcweb/consortium/gladiator6.html>.

"The Roman Empire: in the First Century. The Roman Empire. Social Order. Slaves &
Freemen | PBS." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Web. 24 Apr. 2011.

"The Roman Gladiator Public Perception of Gladiators." AbleMedia LLC - A Knowledge
Company. Web. 27 Apr. 2011.

"The Roman Gladiator: The Venatio." AbleMedia LLC - A Knowledge Company. Web.
24 Apr. 2011. <http://ablemedia.com/ctcweb/consortium/gladiator5.html>.

"The Roman Gladiator Training & Combat." AbleMedia LLC - A Knowledge Company.
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Works Cited http://www.landauer.us/rome/log/?p=81
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