The Ancient Romans loved finding new ways for entertainment. They contributed to philosophy, science, and other fields, but entertainment had a special place in Rome. Romans used different forms of entertainment to spice up their otherwise mundane lives. And the gladiators played a huge role in that entertainment. Romans had gladiator fights in different ways, including human versus human.
Some of the best gladiators from Ancient Rome enjoyed prestige and fame like few others. It was one of the most glamorous professions in Ancient Rome. These battles draw thousands of spectators.
These swordsmen entertained the audience, both regular people and the Emperor. Gladiators were slaves or captured soldiers who trained to fight in the arena. They had a unique style of fighting. Some of them fought against animals and others against other gladiators.
While fighting, gladiators used swords, helmet, and a shield. The most successful among them got awarded Radius, a feat that would grant them freedom after retirement.
Who were Roman gladiators?
The iconic role of gladiator is one that served to entertain Romans by fighting and butchering their opponents. It was a way Emperors used to take the people’s minds out of politics and life. It is an age-old trick, give the people entertainment, and they will not worry about politics, money, economy, and everything else.
These fighters were slaves, criminals, or anyone else forced to compete for his freedom. Sometimes, however, free men joined the arena. Free men desiring gold and glory also fought in the arena.
During Ancient Rome, they were like celebrities. Ladies loved them, and women saw them as sexual objects. While laws forbid women to see gladiators, many run off with them.
Daily Routine of Gladiators
These fighters enjoyed fame and glory. But the majority of their life was grime. They lived in cells, locked into at night. Their owners saw them as high commodities. That is why they did enjoy superior food and hygiene to the average citizen.
But they had many rules. They couldn’t speak during mealtimes. They had no freedom, they had to fight for it.
Most gladiators spent their days training. They had to fight at most five times per year, giving them plenty of free time to train and enjoy winnings.
Here are some of the most popular gladiators from Roman times.
Unlike most gladiators, Marcus Attilius was a free-born man. He volunteered to free himself from debt. Marcus earned his recognition as a rookie. He defeated a veteran fighter and champion of Emperor Nero, Hilarus. He had 13 wreaths to his name before the fight with Marcus.
He then continued his streak and beat fellow volunteers. His exploits were recorded in graffiti outside the Nocerian gate at Pompeii.
Pictures depict him as a murmillo, equipped with a long shield, short skin protectors on his legs, and a gladius.
This guy belongs to the group Bestiarii. To put it simply, he fought against beasts, not people. Carpophorus always dreamed of fighting as a gladiator in the arena.
He got his chance to participate after he jumped into the arena and defeated a bear with a flaming straw. Then continued to fight against wild animals, specializing in bears and lions. During his gladiator career, he bested a bear, a lion, a leopard, a buffalo, panthers, and a boar. On one occasion at the Colosseum, he fought 20 animals and defeated them.
This guy had more success fighting against animals than against people. Many compared his powers and strength to the divine missions of Hercules.
The popular gladiator got famous for his murmillones-styled fights. He entered the arena bare-chested, wielding only a sword and shield.
His victory over Prudes, a fellow gladiator, remains one of the most epic battles. Both of them have their name depicted on glass vessels around France, England, and Hungary. With that battle and win, Tetraites’s fame reached new heights.
To this day, Spartacus remains one of the most popular and famous gladiators. There are many movies, stories, and legends about his life.
He started off as a Thracian soldier. Romans captured him and sold him into slavery. Spartacus led the rebellion against the owner, managing to escape the gladiator school along with 70 other fighters.
Romans sent 50,000 well-trained soldiers to kill him, ending his rebellion. After killing him, Roman soldiers left six thousand of his followers crucified.
Considered a record holder. He was a secutor type of fighter. When offered a small wooden sword symbolizing freedom, he turned it down in favor of continued combat. This Syrian slave did it on four separate occasions.
Out of his 34 participations in the arena, he won 21. Four times he lost but was spared by the audience. And nine times he and the other fighter got both declared as winners. He lived until 30 years, when he got killed in the arena.
Yet, his record of 21 victories remains one of the most significant and impressive records in gladiator history.
He was originally a Syrian soldier. Same as Spartacus, he got captured and forced into gladiator battles. Flamma was also a hero in the First Punic War.
To this day, many historians consider Gannicus one of the most skilled, durable, and athletic fighters. Many compare him to Spartacus and Crixus due to his power and technique.
During the Third Servile War, he got chosen as one of the leaders for the rebel slaves. Gannicus was a Celtic gladiator, famous for his athleticism and level of speed. He could strike rapid and aerial assault in a quick jumping motion.
While his fellow gladiators preferred grounded combat style, he wanted an aerial fight. Gannicus had a unique appearance with tanned skin, long and messy blonde hair. He also had tattoos all over his body. One of his tattoos represented a Nordic symbol associated with invincibility.
The Roman Emperor Nero adored Spiculus. He also got popular with the regular audience. This guy won against many skilled adversaries.
Nero awarded him with palaces and riches no other gladiator has seen before. The Emperor got impressed by his heroics and fighting style.
When Nero was overthrown in 68 AD, he asked Spiculus for a swift death. But his aides could not get hold of the gladiator in time, so Nero took his own life.
Trained as a gladiator in Capua, Crixus was one of the strongest and best gladiators. Alongside Spartacus, he formed a small slave revolt, resulting in the Third Servile War. The massive revolt convulsed the whole of Roman Italy. Crixus got killed under attack from the Romans near Mount Garganus in 72 BC.
Crixus had the mind of military personnel. During the war, he separated himself from Spartacus, forming two major groups in the process. Spartacus led the first, and Crixus the second.
Priscus and Verus
These two won many battles on their own. But we link them together because of their legendary final battle. Facing each other, they fought in the famous Flavian Amphitheater.
The poet Martial detailed the spectacle in detail. After fighting for hours without a winner, the two warriors submitted to each other. They put down their weapons, a move the crowd loved it. Emperor Titus, the organizer of the event, offered them rudis, a small wooden sword representing freedom upon retirement.