Watkins 1 Daniel Watkins Mrs. Caltrider English II July, 7, 2003 Fighting in the Gladiatorial Games of Ancient Rome "The Romans believed that they inherited the practice of gladiatorial games from the Etruscans who used them as part of a funeral ritual. Servants would duel to the death for the right to provide companionship to their owners in eternity" (Roman Civilization 1). The gladiatorial game involved killing one another in close combat. The early Christians interpreted the gladiatorial games as a type of human sacrifice (Roman Civilization 1).

Although there is no recorded history to show this statement is true, the Christians failed better than the Romans. Fighting in the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome killed a lot of great warriors and was a source of entertainment. The gladiatorial games of Ancient Rome took place in 264 BC. The very first games were held in Etruria and were acts of sacrifice. The Romans drew a sharp distinction between gladiatorial contests and other forms of spectacular entertainment. The games that the state sponsored were called l udi, and they were held quite frequently; these games never involved armed single combat and were associated with the worship of a god.

The games were funded by the public treasury (Roman Civilization 3). Titus Flaminius offered 74 pairs of gladiators in games that lasted over three days in honor of his father. Julius Caesar promised 320 matches in funeral games for Watkins 2 his daughter Julia, but the senate passed legislation limiting the amount of money that could be spent on gladiatorial games to stop him. Gladiators entered the arena with the intent to kill each other. In addition, the Roman spectators saw these men face death and attempt to overcome it.

Gladiators were socially dead; they were slaves, prisoners of war, and convicted criminals who had more restricted rights than ordinary citizens under Roman law (Roman Civilization 1). The life of a gladiator was hard. They fought all the time, and there were many different types of weapons and gladiators. Some weapons would be the following: harpoons, helmets, metal shoulder piece, lance, etc.

They had a wide variety of weapons to choose from. Some of the types of Gladiators would include the following: Dima cheri, fought with two swords; Equites, fought on horseback; Myrmillo wore a large galea with a fish on its chest, a manic a of mail, leather, or metal scales on his left arm, octet on at least one leg with a scrotum and a straight Greek-styled sword; Ordinarii were the regular gladiators who fought in pairs in the ordinary way. They also had a wide variety of gladiators (Gladiators-Weapons in the Arsenal of a Roman Gladiator 1). The editor of a game, whether senator, emperor, or other politico, made the final decisions about the fates of those in the arena. However, since the games were to curry public favor, the editor had to pay attention to the wishes of its audience. Much of the audience attended such brutal events for the single purpose of witnessing bravery in the face of death.

There were three ways to end a fight. One way would be if the editor Watkins 3 wanted, he could order the fight to last until "the finger." After his weapons were casted aside, a gladiator could fall on his knees and raise his index finger to ask for mercy. It was up to the editor to grant that wish. The second way was if the editor made no rules for the game, the gladiators would fight until the audience asked for their dismissal. It was then up to the editor to decide whether to go along with the crowd's wishes or fight until "the finger." The third and final way was the editor would also choose a game without dismissal, where fighting lasted until one gladiator died. Augustus might have forbidden this version of the game, but if so, it was only for a short time.

The editor's gesture signifying that the gladiator should be killed was not exactly thumbs down, but thumbs turned. The thumb motion represented the plying of the sword. As for thumbs up, there appeared to be no evidence for it or at least if there was it probably meant death, not mercy. A waving handkerchief also signified mercy, and graffiti indicates the shouting of the words "dismissed" also worked. Honor was crucial to the gladiatorial games, and the audiences expected the loser to be valiant even in death. The honorable way to die was for the losing gladiator to grasp the thigh of the victor who would then hold the loser's head or helmet and plunge a sword into his neck.

To make sure the loser was not pretending to be dead, an attendant dressed as Mercury would touch him with his hot iron wand. Another attendant, dressed as Charon, would hit him with a mallet (Gladiator 1). The gladiators of ancient Rome went through a lot of gruesome experiences. They had long and hard lives even though they didn't live that long, unless they were real good.

The gladiators that did win won many riches, but it was not worth it unless Watkins 4 you were fighting for your freedom. Not even at one point in a gladiator's fighting career were they respected or treated fairly. That is why fighting in the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome killed many great warriors and was a source of entertainment.