The Ancient Roman Gladiator

By Cameron Duncan and Marcus Bravo, Block 2

What they did that was so bold.

The ancient Roman gladiator was a prisoner or slave, or just some dummy looking for glory, who trained to kill others for sport.In other words, they were professional fighters. Fights took place in the colosseum, where people would gather for recreational purposes to watch them gut each other, though they didn't always die. This must have taken a lot of guts, but why would they do that in the first place, you ask? Let's find out.

Rewards for Fighting

-Living another day (As most gladiators were slaves or prisoners of war, this was a priveledge). "Even if defeated, a gladiator might be granted a reprieve (missus) if he fought well or, if neither fighter prevailed, both could be reprieved (stans missus)" (Encyclopedia Romana).

-You could become famous "A successful gladiator received great acclaim; he was praised by poets, his portrait appeared on gems and vases, and patrician ladies pampered hi."(Gary Edward Forsythe).

-After winning a few fights, you could win money and valuable stuff. "it became the custom to add to this rich and valuable presents and a prize of money"(Gary Edward Forsythe).

Risks Taken when Fighting

-You could be killed. "But for the criminal who was to be publicly executed (damnati ad mortem) or for Christian martyrs who refused to renounce their faith and worship the gods, there was no hope of survival in the arena"(Encyclopedia Romana).

-You could become disliked. "Commodus (AD 180-192) enthusiastically participated as a gladiator. Boasting of victory in a thousand matches, sparring with his hapless opponents (slicing off in the process, say Cassius Dio, "the noses of some, the ears of others, and sundry features of still others, LXXIII.17.2"), and slaughtering exotic animals brought from as far away as India and Africa, he had rooms at one of the schools and intended to march from there, dressed as a gladiator, to assume the consulship. This prospect was considered so outrageous by those closest to him that, fearing for their own lives, they had him assassinated the day before he was to take office" (Encyclopedia Romana).

-You could have to face the misery of being crippled. "Referees oversaw the action, and probably stopped the fight as soon as one of the participants was seriously wounded" (Ten Things You May Not Know About Roman Gladiators).


Even though you could become famous, get money, and stay alive a bit longer for being a roman gladiator, it honestly wasn't worth the risks by any stretch of the imagination. After all, "...there was no hope of survival in the arena" unless you were a highly trained brute, and unfortunately, most who were gladiators were forced to fight, or were just looking for glory, and didn't actually know what they were doing. And if you ask me, it isn't worth risking your head for money, and that's a fact.


"Rome, Gladiator." Rome, Gladiator. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. http://history- "The Roman Gladiator." The Roman Gladiator. Web. 15 Sept.2014.

"10 Things You May Not Know About Roman Gladiators." A&E Television Networks, 04 Mar. 2014. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <>.