Gladiatorial Combat In Rome

Satisfactory Essays
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 believed to be an Etruscan word. (4:50) Gladiators of Ancient

Rome lived their lives to the absolute fullest.

Gladiatorial duels had originated from funeral games given in order to

satisfy the dead man's need for blood, and for centuries their principle

occasions were funerals. The first gladiatorial combats therefore, took place

at the graves of those being honored, but once they became public spectacles

they moved into amphitheaters. (2:83) As for the gladiators themselves, an aura

of religious sacrifice continued to hang about their combats. Obviously most

spectators just enjoyed the massacre without any remorseful reflections. Even

ancient writers felt no pity, they were aware that gladiators had originated

from these holocausts in honor of the dead. What was offered to appease the

dead was counted as a funeral rite. It is called munus (a service) from being a

service due. The ancients thought that by this sort of spectacle they rendered

a service to the dead, after they had made it a more cultured form of cruelty.

The belief was that the souls of the dead are appeased with human blood, they

use to sacrifice captives or slaves of poor quality at funerals. Afterwards it

seemed good to obscure their impiety by making it a pleasure. (6:170) So after

the acquired person had been trained to fight as best they can, their training

was to learn to be killed! For such reasons gladiators were sometimes known as

bustuarii or funeral men. Throughout many centuries of Roman history, these

commemorations of the dead were still among the principle occasions for such

combats. Men writing their wills often made provisions for gladiatorial duels

in connection with their funerals. Early in the first century AD, the people of

Pollentia forcibly prevented the burial of an official, until his heirs had been

compelled to provide money for a gladiators' show. (1:174)

It was in Campania and Lucania that the gladiatorial games came to their
Get Access