Gladiators were fighters who fought in the arena in ancient Rome for the amusement of the public. The word means "sword-bearer" and comes from the name of a short sword - gladia, which was very popular among the military at that time.
The idea, in general, is not new, since even among the ancient Etruscans it was customary to arrange fights during memorial festivities in order to honor the deceased. In Rome, this kind of entertainment took root so much that gladiator fights began to be arranged for any reason. This was especially liked by politicians in order to win the favor of the people and secure votes for themselves in the elections.
In 63 AD, Emperor Nero issued a decree allowing free women to participate in gladiatorial tournaments. In 66, Nero puts on an expensive performance in the city of Puteoli in honor of the Armenian king Trdat I, in which Ethiopians, including women, took part. And the emperor Domitian in 89 brought dwarf gladiators into the arena.
At times, gladiatorial performances reached unprecedented proportions that any modern show can envy. During the time of the emperor Titus, a monstrous performance was staged, which lasted 100 days. And Emperor Trajan celebrated the completion of the conquest of Dacia by presenting 5, 000 pairs of gladiators.
The most expensive were the naval battles of gladiators, which were called navmachia. The largest was organized by order of the Emperor Claudius. 50 warships were launched on Lake Fucino near Rome, the number of gladiators was 20 thousand people. For fears of a mutiny, troops were pulled to the site of navmachia. The number of viewers was about half a million people
Not only slaves and criminals fought in the arena, many noble Romans also liked to participate in battles, albeit incognito, since this was not encouraged in high society. The Roman emperor Commodus fought 735 battles as a gladiator! According to legend, he was stabbed to death in the arena. But in fact, he was strangled the day before entering the arena. The film "Gladiator" is dedicated to this story.
The most famous gladiator was Spartacus, who raised a rebellion against Rome and fought successfully with his legions for several years. In the last battle, Spartacus was killed, and about 6, 000 slaves captured by the Romans were crucified along the Appian Way from Capua to Rome and for the edification of the rest of the body hung there for several years.
Many slaves tried to get into the gladiatorial school, since by fighting in the arena and gaining the respect of the public, they could win their freedom. Famous gladiators received quite large rewards for their battles, for example, the case is known when the emperor Nero presented the gladiator Spikula with an entire palace.
Many slave gladiators did not stop participating in battles even after being freed. So, the gladiator Filamma received the symbol of freedom four times, but each time after that he re-signed another contract. He remained a gladiator until the end of his days, death overtook him during the 39th battle.
Near the gladiatorial arenas in ancient Rome in special kiosks one could buy animal fat and gladiator sweat. Women have used these substances as cosmetics. In addition, gladiators were also highly paid lovers.
The largest amphitheater was the Coliseum, which could accommodate about 50, 000 spectators. Gladiator films are never made in the Colosseum - it is not well preserved for filming. Therefore, the role of the Colosseum in the cinema is most often performed by the Amphitheater of Mark Antony Gordian in the city of Tisdra in Tunisia.
In the event that the gladiator was injured and could not fight, he raised his index and middle fingers up, thus asking the public to decide his fate. Depending on the opinion of the crowd, the winner had to finish off the lying person or leave him alive if he deserved life by valiant resistance.
Although it is widely believed that a "raised finger" meant "Life", and a lowered one - "Death" (in this form, gestures are now used for approval and condemnation), in most ancient games, regardless of direction, a protruding finger meant "death", symbolizing a movement finishing sword, and "Life" meant just a hidden thumb in a fist.
Gladiator fights in the Western Roman Empire were banned in 404 AD, when Christianity prevailed in the Roman Empire. After the prohibition of fights between gladiators, they fought only with animals, their art has come down to this day in the form of bullfighting.