The Rise of Gladiatorial Combat in Rome

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The Rise of Gladiatorial Combat in Rome

Gladiatorial contests (munera gladitoria), hold a central place in our perception of Roman behavior. They were also a big influence on how Romans themselves ordered their lives. Attending the games was one of the practices that went with being a Roman. The Etruscans who introduced this type of contest in the sixth century BC, are credited with its development but its the
Romans who made it famous. A surviving feature of the Roman games was when a gladiator fell he was hauled out of the arena by a slave dressed as the Etruscan death-demon Charun. The slave would carry a hammer which was the demon 's attribute. Moreover, the Latin term for a trainer-manager of gladiators
(lanista), was
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At other times they were thrown to the wild beasts. Criminals that were used had committed crimes that carried a death sentence or harsh manual labor. The crimes which led to the arena were murder, treason, robbery and arson.
Criminals sentenced to forced labor were often obliged to serve as gladiators, and were sentenced to three years of combat and two years in the schools.
Sometimes penalties were differentiated according to social class, thus for certain crimes which in the case of slaves would involve execution, free men or freedmen (ex-slaves) were condemned to fight in the arena instead. This did not of course make them gladiators, unless they were trained first, as those required to provide this sort of sport not always were. And indeed as gladiators became more expensive in the second century AD the use of untrained criminals in the amphitheater increased.(7:537) Most gladiators, at Rome and elsewhere were slaves, but in addition there were always some free men who became gladiators because they wanted to. The profession was an alternative to being a social outcast. They were generally derived from the lowest ranking category of free persons, namely the freedman who had themselves been slaves or were the son of slaves. Free fighters were more sought after than slaves, presumably because they shower greater enthusiasm in the arena. Such a volunteer was offered a
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