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Gladiator Games

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From Wikipedia

Gladiator Games

A Gladiator (Latin: gladiator, "swordsman", from gladius, "sword") was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their legal and social standing and their lives by appearing in the arena. Most were despised as slaves, schooled under harsh conditions, socially marginalized, and segregated even in death. Irrespective of their origin, gladiators offered audiences an example of Rome's martial ethics and, in fighting or dying well, they could inspire admiration and popular acclaim. They were celebrated in high and low art, and their value as entertainers was commemorated in precious and commonplace objects throughout the Roman world.

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The trade in gladiators was Empire-wide, and subjected to official supervision. Rome's military success produced a supply of soldier-prisoners who were redistributed for use in State mines or amphitheatres and for sale on the open market. For example, in the aftermath of the Jewish Revolt, the gladiator schools received an influx of Jews – those rejected for training would have been sent straight to the arenas as noxii (lit. "hurtful ones"). The best – the most robust – were sent to Rome. In Rome's military ethos, enemy soldiers who had surrendered or allowed their own capture and enslavement had been granted an unmerited gift of life. Their training as gladiators would give them opportunity to redeem their honour in the munus.

Two other sources of gladiators, found increasingly during the Principate and the relatively low military activity of the Pax Romana, were slaves condemned to the arena, to gladiator schools or games (ad ludum gladiatorium) as punishment for crimes, and paid volunteers (auctorati) who by the late Republic may have comprised approximately half – and possibly the most capable half – of all gladiators. The use of volunteers had a precedent in the Iberian munus of Scipio Africanus; but none of those had been paid.For Romans, "gladiator" would have meant a schooled fighter, sworn and contracted to a master.

For the poor, and for non-citizens, enrollment in a gladiator school offered a trade, regular food, housing of sorts and a fighting chance of fame and fortune. Gladiators customarily kept their prize money and any gifts they received, and these could be substantial. Tiberius offered several retired gladiators 100,000 sesterces (0,000) each to return to the arena. Nero gave the gladiator Spiculus property and residence "equal to those of men who had celebrated triumphs."  Mark Antony promoted gladiators to his personal guard.

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