The Life of a Gladiator

One of the most iconic characters in Ancient Rome was the Gladiators. Seen as strong, ferocious men who ruled the amphitheatre games. But apart from their violent work, what else do we know about these ancient beings?

Becoming a Gladiator

Majority of the time gladiators were criminals, prisoners of war and more commonly slaves. Being either sold or conquered for the purpose of training them into fierce fighters. But as the games became more and more famed, free men began signing contracts with gladiator schools from the lure of glory and prize money. Ranging from being desperate men out of work to professional freelance warriors, ex-soldiers, or sometimes even knights.

As well, the gender of a gladiator wasn’t always restricted to men. With a rise in female gladiators acclimating by the 1st century to become a common fixture in the games. Usually, these fighters were slaves forced to fight, as women volunteers were scarce. However, the respect of these women was still limited, and their participation was put to an end in 200 A.D. when women fighters were banned.

Their Reputation

Back in the day, instead of Hollywood celebrities, the lower-class citizens of Rome saw gladiators as sex symbols and superstars. Treated similar to today’s stars, these figures had their own endorsements, action figures for children, and public portraits displayed on the streets. Women adored the most successful fighters, dipping their hairpins and jewellery into the fighter’s blood and sweat, sometimes even mixing it with their facial creams.

The Training

Due to their being different fights, including full armour, light armour, animal fights, or expert fights, training varied according to the fighter’s abilities. Weapon training was common, with wooden swords used. Light armour fighters practised their speed while heavy armoured fighters required different techniques.

Their Daily Routine

Despite the glory and fame, the life of an average fighter was grime. With most being slaves, they were locked away in their cells at night, only to be woken up at the crack of dawn each morning. As they were seen as high commodities, their hygiene and food were superior to the average citizens, but they were not free to enjoy these extras, with speaking restricted during mealtimes and those not training even shackled.

If a gladiator was very successful or a free man, their life was much better. Compared to the slaves, free gladiators had great living conditions, and they were given much more freedom, able to leave their homes at will. Majority of these gladiators were only expected to fight at most 5 times a year which gave them plenty of free time to enjoy their winnings.

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