When one thinks about ancient Roman civilization, many things come to mind. One of the prominent aspects about their society was the gladiatorial games. Although the name might imply fun competition, they were much different than what we would consider games in our modern times. These battles between men were considered entertainment for the masses in the Roman world, similar to how we watch sports such as soccer or basketball. Essentially, gladiators consisted of slaves, criminals, and volunteers. They would be trained in hand to hand combat as well as fighting with weapons. They would then be forced into an arena, called a coliseum, in order to fight each other or fight animals. The coliseums were enormous buildings constructed specifically for these games, as well as chariot races, but gladiators were more of an attraction. They could fit up to 50,000 people, with each class sitting in separate areas. The emperors enjoyed the best view at the top of the coliseum. The gladiators would generally fight until one of them was killed, or the emperor deemed both their lives worthy. We get the thumb up and thumb down hand signal from the Romans: up means kill, similar to motion of thrusting a sword into a person. Thumbs down signifies “let him live”. Although these gladiator games may seem violent and perhaps uncivilized, they actually affected people of ancient Roman society in a positive way. In one way, the games helped the senatorial class, also known as the rich and powerful lawmakers, pacify the proletariat class, also known as the poor or working class. During the earlier years of the Roman republic, there was much unrest between the classes and te...
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...a place to live, with the chance at fame. Sometimes they were given positions outside of being gladiators that they would have never otherwise obtained, such as being part of an armed guard. In addition, the games helped pacify the poorer classes and distracted them from the class struggle, which helped decrease violence. Finally, the gladiatorial games provided a place for political figures to increase their popularity by demonstrating their generosity and organizational skills. Many important people paid for the games to be put on and the many show watchers would not need to pay for admittance. Essentially they were given free entertainment, which boosted the political figures popularity and influence. Overall, gladiators actually affected Rome in many positive ways, despite being one of the most violent forms of entertainment in perhaps all of human history.
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