Gladiators What were gladiators? The word "gladiator" comes from a Latin word which means swordsman. Gladiators were first introduced in Rome about 264 BC by the sons of Junius Brutus during their father's Death Ritual Ceremony. Gladiators engaged in a type of war game and were intended to ensure that the ceremony for their father would be accompanied by an armed attendance and the "spirit"ÃÂ of the death would be appeased with an offering the blood. It was a religious ceremony, but as time progressed, the gladiator games lost their original ritual meaning and became part of everyday Romans lives as a form of bloody entertainment. The Gladiator games were held in a big amphitheater. The most famous amphitheater was Flavian in Rome. The name was later changed to Coliseum and still stands in Rome today. The coliseum could hold up to 50,000 people and was the center of Rome.
Most of the gladiators were slaves, condemned criminals, or prisoners that specially trained for gladiators. The slaves did not have any rights at that time and they had to do what their masters wanted them to do. Besides those kinds of people, free men could also join and train for the games with the purpose of gaining popularity and patronage by the people of wealth. Although not as well known, women were trained and fight as gladiators and fight alongside men and also against them.
Unlike popular myths, losing a fight in the coliseum didn't guarantee death for a fearless gladiator. Even the words "Habet Hoc Harbet", meaning, He's had It, did not necessarily mean death. Although the emperor controlled everything including life and death in the coliseum, he always looked to the spectators for the final decision of Life or death, depending on the direction of the spectators' thumbs.