The Rise Of Gladiatorial Combat In Rome — страница 2

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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