Реферат: Untitled Essay Research Paper The Rise of

Untitled Essay, Research Paper

The Rise of Gladiatorial Combat

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

full development and took on their classical form. In these new surroundings

they took root and flourished, as can be seen in fourth century BC, tomb

paintings. These pictures show helmeted gladiators carrying shields and lances,

covered with wounds and dripping with blood. (2:84) For Rome a decisive moment

in gladiatorial history was reached in 246 BC, the year when the first Punic

War began. At the funeral of Brutus Pera, his two sons for the first time

exhibited, in the cattle market, three simultaneous gladiatorial combats.

By 216 BC the number of fights given on a single occasion had risen to twenty

two.(14:16) In 105 BC the two consuls of the year made gladiatorial games

official. There were no doubts of religious tendency, but the purpose of

Roman spectacles, were a public display of power, that power was primarily

military, and also to compensate the soft Greek culture which now was abroad.


The Gladiators

Those compelled to fight gladiator duels included prisoners of war, slaves

and condemned criminals. Among them were numerous followers of the new Christian

faith. During this time persecution fell heavily on their faith, many won

immortal fame as martyrs. Fighting in the arena was one of the sentences

earned by the sacrilege accused against members of the Christian religion

because of their refusal to sacrifice to the emperor. It was written that

these Christians were forced, as gladiatorial novices to run the gauntlet.

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 bonus if he survived the term of his contract, yet he still

had to swear the terrible oath of submission to be burnt with fire, shackled

with chains, whipped with rods and killed with steel like the rest of the

gladiators. For the period of his engagement, he had become no more than

a slave. (7:539)

Majestic Exhibitions and Schools

There seemed no end to public entertainment’s of one sort or another

at Rome. First there were the regular functions. The number of days in each

year given up to annual games and spectacles of one sort or another in the

city was startlingly large, and increased continually. Already 66 in the

time of Augustus, it had risen to 135 under Marcus Aurelius, and 175 or more

in the fourth century. Gladiatorial amusement had become an essential feature

of the services a ruler had to provide, in order to maintain his popularity

and his job. Emperors themselves had to attend the shows. Emperors watching

the shows were distinct, vulnerable, and subject to public pressures which

could not be displayed elsewhere. That was why the games were not popular

with a few rulers such as Marcus Aurelius. He directed that if a gladiator

was freed as a result of popular outcry in the amphitheater the liberation

was to be annulled. Aurelius found the sport boring and indeed he was

unenthusiastic about Roman entertainment in general. (10:87)

The teaching of gladiators was highly elaborate affair involving expertise

appreciated by those members of the public who attended the games for something

more than blood and thrills. Gladiators were trained at gladiator schools

established during the late Republic at the time of Sulla 138-78 BC. (2:86)

Novices practiced with wooden swords on a man of straw or a wooden post.

The weapons used in more adept practice were heavier than those used in the

arena. Discipline was severe, with ruthless punishments. The barracks they

lived in were so low inmates could only sit or lie.(3:68) Breaking any rules

was not tolerated and resulted in strict reprimanding: shackles, flogging

or even death. (2:86) The main objective of the schools were to produce the

best possible fighters for the arena, thus scrupulous attention was invested

in gladiator health. Their schools were situated in favorable climates, and

equipped with first class doctors. The schools were also provided with resident

medical consultants to check the men’s diet. Gladiators were called

hordearii, barley men, because of the amount of barley that they ate, a muscle

building food. (12:111)

The Types of Gladiators

From Republican times onward, foreign prisoners were made to fight with their

own weapons and in their own styles. Many of these men, were merely prisoners

herded into the arena, but various classes of professional gladiators likewise

came from this category. Such, for example was the origin of the gladiators

known as the Samnites. Generally regarded as the prototypes of all Rome’s

gladiators, they are said to have come into existence after its Samnite enemies

introduced a splendid new type of military equipment in 310 BC. Gladiators

were ranked in different categories according to their fighting style and

the type of weapon they used. These Samnites wore the heavy, magnificent

armor of soldiers. It included a large shield (scutum), a leather or partly

metal greave (ocrea) on the left leg, and a visored helmet (galea) with huge

crests and plumes. To these were added sword (gladius) or lance (hasta),

and the sleeve on the right arm which was part of a gladiators general

equipment.(11:121) Sectores were armed with a sword and mace loaded with

lead. Thraces carried a curved scimitar of varying shape, and a small square

or round shield. Myrmilliones (‘Guals’) carried a shield and a

short scythe and wore a distinctive fish ornament on their helmets. The Retiarii

were exceptionally uncovered, except sometimes for a head band. They carried

a trident in one hand and a net in the other. Because the throwing of a net

as a method of combat, was second rate the Retarii were inferior in status

to the ranks, and thus had the worst living quarters. (2:86) The Myrmillo

could fight against the Thracian or against the Retiarius or net fighter.

But the principle opponent of the Retiarius was the Secutor.(12:109)

The Procedure of the Arena

Gladiatorial shows were intensively promoted and advertised to raise public

attention. Descriptions of upcoming contests, appeared on walls and on the

grave stones beside main roads. The opening ceremonies began the day before

the fights. It was then that the supporter of the show donated a splendid

feast to the contestants about to appear on the following day. The proceedings

of the murderous day began with a chariot drive and parade. Led and presented

by the sponsor of the games. The gladiators displayed themselves in uniforms

topped by cloaks dyed purple with gold embroidery. Climbing down their chariots,

they marched around the arena, followed by slaves carrying their arms and

armor. Gladiators, especially those who belonged to the emperor’s own

troop, were often finely equipped. When the combatants arrived opposite the

emperor’s platform, they extended their right hands towards him and

cried ‘Hail, emperor, greetings from men about to die!’ (Ave,

imperator, morituri te salutant!) (7:538)

The games often opened with a convicted criminal being thrown to a lion.

The criminal was given a small sword, and if he could kill the lion his life

was spared. Another way in which they opened the games was to tie the criminal

to a pillar and lower him into a pit of hungry beasts. After these morbid

killings took place, the animal events would take center stage. The most

common of these fights would be a lion against bear. To make the beast ready

for fighting they would starved the animals and poked them with sticks while

in the cage.(5:17) These events were followed by a break, during this break

Gladiatores Meridiane took place. This event consisted of a fully armed gladiator

against an unarmed man. The object was simple, to kill your opponent, the

winner went on to fight the next combatant. The overall winner was the person

that was standing in the end.(2:88) The afternoon brought about the beginning

of the gladiatorial events. Staged with a dramatic sense of climax, the afternoon

started with second rate displays that were bloodless. These mock fighters

were called paegniarii.(1:176) After these mock battles came the real fights,

the tamest of these would be the hand to hand combats with one opponent.

However, most of the contests were worst, ranging from armed fighters against

unarmed, two criminals versus a gladiator, and even a group of gladiators

versus another group.

While the fighters were at grips, their trainers (lanista) stood beside them

and hounded them on much like a modern boxers trainer would. Meanwhile the

crowd shouted commands of their own including beat, kill and burn. When a

man fell, the herald raised their trumpets, and spectators yelled ‘Got

him! He’s had it!’ (habet, hoc habet). The fallen fighter if he

was in a state to move, laid down his shield, and raised one finger of his

left hand for mercy. The decision whether his life should be spared, rested

with the provider of the games, but he generally let the crowd make the decision.

Thumbs up, and a waving of handkerchiefs, meant his life would be spared,

thumbs down and he would be killed without hesitation. While African boys

raked over the bloodstained sand, fallen gladiators were taken away. A Charon

would verify the gladiators death and finish him off it was necessary. The

costumes of the Charon were designed to look like Mercury, divine guide of

dead men’s souls to the infernal regions.(10:167)

If a fighter’s performance had not given satisfaction, or if he was

a criminal whose survival was not desired, his life was sometimes risked

again on the same day by orders for a repeat performance, against specially

introduced understudies. When neither party won and both were spared, each

was described as stans missus, and such a result was often recorded on

inscriptions. The victorious gladiators were presented with palm branches

as a prize, and in Greek lands of the Empire they were given a wreath or

crown in addition or instead. Both palms and crowns are often shown on funeral

monuments. The giver of the games also provided prize money, according to

scales stipulated in the gladiators’ contracts. (10:169)

The Arenas

In early times gladiators’ duels took place in whatever public places

a town might posses. But then, under the emperors, the characteristic place

for such a contest was the amphitheater. This was an oval auditorium surrounded

by rows of seats facing on to the arena, as in modern bull rings, absorbing

the blood of slaughtered men and beasts. The first permanent amphitheater

known to us is not in Rome but in Campania, the country which inherited the

gladiatorial games from Eturia and passed them on to the Romans. (13:225)

The largest and most famous of all such buildings was initiated by the Flavian

dynasty. Opened by Titus in AD 80, this Colosseum is one of the most marvelous

buildings in the world. Its massive overall measurements are 187 by 155 meters,

of which the space for the arena itself comprises 86 by 54 meters. There

was accommodation for perhaps 45,000 sitting spectators and at least 5,000

more willing to stand. Underneath the arena is a labyrinth of passages for

stage effects, pens for wild beasts, storage rooms and the mechanism by which

scenery and other apparatus were hoisted into the arena. The emperor’s

platform was at the center of one of the long sides, facing across to the

portion of the auditorium reserved for magistrates and the holder of the

games. There were also places for priests, who also attended these bloodthirsty

sports. (13:227) The formula of the collosseum helped to mold renaissance

styles. In the eight century they said that:

As long as it stands,

Rome will stand;

when it falls, Rome will fall;

when Rome falls, the world will fall

The colosseum has often been raided, but has never fallen. It has been made

to serve many purposes, many of which are ironic. These have included sacred

occasions, church services, and plays. Thus through all the depredation the

colosseum has faced over the years inside and outside of the arena, this

indestructible building still towers over the city today. (13:230)

The Gladiator in Society

The reputation of gladiators in the eyes of the public was curiously mixed.

For one thing they were feared. Society was never able to forget for very

long that the gladiators were a potential danger to society. So, of course

were the masses of slaves in general, and that is why their crimes were so

savagely punished, if one slaved murdered his master, the whole household

had to die. But by training the gladiators they spared the rest of the slaves

family, and forced him to fight for his life in front of the community he

violated. Moreover their legal and moral position in the community was one

of complete shame. When a gladiator was killed, his corpse was not permitted

honorable to be buried, unless it was claimed by his family or a friend.


However there is ample proof of the admiration and indeed excitement that

the gladiators aroused. Gladiators became so ingrained in the Roman mind

and soul that they believed in superstitions that resulted from munera. It

was believed that the warm blood of a slaughtered gladiator would cure epilepsy.

When newly married women, parted their hair with a gladiators spear, it brought

good luck if this had belonged to a man mortally wounded in the arena. (8:276)

Gladiators were also seen highly upon by women, graffiti at the Pompeii

amphitheater reveal that members of the profession were loved with the passionate

infatuation which teenage females have for pop singers today. Although gladiators

lived relatively short lives it was possible to win liberation and retire

on receipt of the symbolical wooden sword (rudis). It was also noted that

some ex-gladiators moved upwards into respectable smart circles of local

bourgeoisie’s (9:96)

Opposition and Abolition

It was probably assumed that the munera would go on forever, and that nothing

would stop their growth. With the rise of Christianity a religious presence

lingered about such contests once again. The Roman ruling classes began to

view these contest with a favorable eye. The excuse of encouragement to warlike

toughness continued to be put forward until the eve of the Middle Ages, although

it started to become lame and inhumane. Another purpose present in the minds

of Rome’s rulers was the desire that potentially unruly and dangerous

city population should be amused and kept quiet. They should be given

entertainment that they wanted, no matter how disgusting if might be.

The games gradually lost its original intentions and connections to the earlier

funeral games. Once defenseless human beings are thrown to wild animals,

the original purpose is lost, the purpose now is blood-thirsty spectators

viewing inhumane, unjust executions. (2:87) The new religion however ended

them for good. With the rise of emperor Constantine and Christianity came

the fall of the gladiatorial spectacles. In AD 326, Constantine abolished

gladiators’ games altogether. He also stated that all criminals who

would have in the past have been enrolled for the

games must in the future be condemned to forced labor in the mines instead.

By the end of the fourth century, gladiatorial shows had disappeared from

the Eastern Empire. (2:87)


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