Explain the significance of gladiators in ancient Roman society

Essay by MaxertHigh School, 10th gradeA, November 2014

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Explain the significance of gladiators in ancient Roman society

Gladiators were and continue to be a defining symbol of the Roman empire and almost entire era of that empire. In the following paragraphs I've investigated: The origins of gladiatorial games and combat, the development of these traditions into the more recognisable arena combat, the types of gladiators and it's ever expanding cast during the expansion of Rome's empire, the role of women in gladiatorial combat and the public's views on gladiatrices then finally a look into reasons for and forms of gladiatorial battle or combat. Gladiators over the evolution of the Roman Empire grew and evolved with it, changing purposes to cater to the context of the empire and it's issues.

The origins of gladiatorial games were almost certainly derived from Rome's predecessors, the Etruscans. Their life of gluttony and pleasure almost certainly would hold a place for such games.

This is displayed further in fact, as many gladiators became not only famous among the people of Rome but also sex symbols among the people. According to Livy the games were first held in 310 BC to celebrate the Campanians victory over the Samnites. The earliest known gladiator schools (ludi) were in Campania, tomb frescoes from Paestum show paired fighters, bearing helmets, shields and spears in a funeral blood rite that anticipates early Roman gladiatorial games. Comparing this to evidence from etruscan tomb paintings which can be seen as tentative and late, the Paestum frescoes may be part of a much older tradition, acquired or inherited from greek colonists from 8th century BC. The earliest roman games, dated by Livy go back to 264 BC, in the early stages of the first Punic war. Decimus Iunius Brutus Scaeva had three men fight to the death to honour the death of...