Heroes or Victims?

By Thomas McGowan

Let the Games Begin

The gladiatorial games begun at about 250BC. They were first held at funerals for slaves to fight, to see who will serve their master in the afterlife. These games were then held in public for the entertainment of citizens. The fighters consisted of slaves and prisoners of war on Rome’s conquest for more land.

FIghters and their Weapons

There were many different styles of fighting in the coliseum. Most fights mainly consisted of advantages and disadvantages. The same style fighters were almost never paired together. One of the most common fights was the retarius and the sectutor. All fighters were trained specifically for their type of combat.

Gladiators took their name from their main weapon, the gladius. Gladiators where set free if they were victorious and the overall victor of the games. Some female gladiators where not even gladiators at all. They, in some cases, where expert hunter who appeared in the coliseum. These types of gladiators commonly fought animals. A gladiatrix was a term referring to a female gladiator.

Fun Facts about the Fights

The matches are often rigged in one gladiator’s favor.

Criminals were used as gladiators and were often outnumbered or outmatched.

Animals in the coliseum were often so frightened they would not attack.

The fight between Priscus and Verus was the only know recorded fight and the only known fight in which both fighters were victors

Gladiators: Rise and Fall

What is it like being a Gladiator?

Most Roman gladiators were slaves. Most were captured from faraway places on Rome’s conquest of land. The Prisoners were then trained by lanista and fed on a high energy diet. Some gladiators other than being poor and enslaved were rich citizens of Rome who cannot pay of debt. This causes them to look for a job, such as being a gladiator.

The Gladitorial Schedule

The morning of the Roman Gladiatorial Games consisted of men fighting animals armed or unprotected. Some of the animals includes lions, giraffes, and elephants. During the lunch hours, there is an intermission for most, but for those who stay, it is the executing of prisoners and convicts. The final part of the Games is what most Roman citizens favored the most above all else. This was man vs man. The Fighters were armed in most cases, but in some, only one had the weapon.


From what these articles I have come to the conclusion that gladiators are both heroes AND victims. This is because of the fact that gladiators are taken from their homes as prisoners of war or force to be one because there are no other options of ways to earn money. They are heroes though because the matches are often rigged in one’s favor. They are also heroes because they win freedom if they are victorious in the arena. The crowd in the arena seems to play the role of saying who they want to win and if the emperor should allow them to die or not. The emperor's role seems to be who dies, when, and how. He is the one who approves everything.