The Gladiatorial World : Gladiatorial Warfare

1601 WordsApr 11, 20177 Pages
Gladiatorial games were an ingrained part of Roman society by the first-century AD. They have consistently been portrayed as gruesome battles between two men, usually slaves or criminals, in which one almost always inevitably dies. While this circumstance did occur in ancient times, there is also strong evidence showing that this was not always the case. It is true that slaves and criminals, as well as prisoners of war, were the main source of gladiators due to their expendability and large numbers following Roman conquests, however, in later years there were freemen and freedmen who joined the gladiatorial schools and took up the profession. It is also common knowledge that gladiatorial combat did indeed end in death, though there is much…show more content…
Seneca the Younger writes that, “the gladiator judges it ignominious to be set against an inferior, as he knows it is without glory to defeat one who can be defeated without danger.” (On Providence 3.4 – CB 4.18) It is therefore understandable that the more bouts a gladiator fought, the higher his survival rate would be due to the difficulties in finding an opponent equally matched in skill. Some freemen may have joined for the fame or the sexual allure associated with gladiators, which we can clearly see in grafitti and artworks from the first century AD. One example is found in Pompeii, “Celadus the Thraex, the sigh of the girls, three combats, three victories.” (CIL 4.4342, Jacobelli 2003 The Spectacles at Pompeii 48-49), while this was likely written by Celadus himself it shows the connection between gladiatorial victories and the sexual allure associated with gladiators. We can also see the theme of sexual allure showing up in other aspects of Roman society, such as the connection between erotic scenes and gladiators that can be found on some vases. FOOTNOTE(Jacobelli 2003, The Spectacles at Pompeii 52). The presence of such artworks shows that Roman society saw gladiators as a sexual symbol and thus one could argue that this would be an attraction to the profession,
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