Gladiatorial combat: the wrestling of the ancient world

Heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate, it is the sand of the Colosseum.Around Gladiator has accumulated a concentrate of the myth, which will be envied by any rock star. And there has been no avoiding the ubiquitous Hollywood makes the time wonderful movies, which, unfortunately, rarely intersect with reality. There they often stand for real characters, who by force of circumstances got in the extreme for any person the situation that they face an unenviable fate – death.

The story is interesting, but has obvious disadvantages: it does not have the entertainment that is in the movie; the events were long ago, and so can be distorted, facts can be less beautiful than cinematic picture. Therefore, we face many myths concerning gladiatorial combat. And nobody takes the liberty to read a ton of historical information to dispel these myths. No one but because that’s what we do.

So who were the men who took part in gladiatorial combat than living and why it with such interest in our time, when the fights are long gone? What we see in Gladiator that we don’t have? All this we will try to answer in this article, we will use the outdoor historical sources, as well as such books as «the history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire» by E. Gibbon and the «Roman History» by T. Mommsen.

It started, as it usually happens, from the time when about any gladiatorial combat was not known by the Romans. Then Rome was not strong, not famous and, in essence, was an ordinary community, which on the italic Peninsula was enough. At that time there was a custom: when he died some very noble man, gave him a tribute match. There is another view that the gladiatorial games came from Etruscan. This nation was the custom, in the course of which the two best bodyguard of the leader fought among themselves for the right to protect their master in the afterlife. It’s not even a prototype of the Gladiator fights, but only soil in which real gladiatorial battle.

The first known gladiatorial fight was at the funeral of decimus Junius Brutus Pera in 264 BC Then fought three pairs of gladiators. The Romans felt that this form of entertainment has a great future and great entertainment, so the fighting took on the flow near such a thing as theatre.

But theatre, being a recognized national treasure in Hellenistic Greece, developed in Rome. The Roman people were not so thin, like a Greek. They were simple in nature and prefer bread and circuses sissy philosophizing and sensual entertainment. In this, as it is believed, lies the most striking difference between Rome and Greece. Therefore, we see that before the 2nd century. B. E. in gladiatorial combat began to take part a huge number of people, the popularity of the fighting were growing, but because the reasons for their conduct became more and more, thereby displacing the initial funeral.

During the Republic the people were much more modest and singular spectacle was not. It always happens. Only absolute power can generate completely crazy in appearance and scale of the submission. So the Romans were able to witness, not without pleasure, the 100-day Gladiator fights, which were held by Emperor Titus. Trajan had a fight, which was attended by 5000 pairs of gladiators, so he noted his successful military campaign which ended with the conquest of Dacia. Domitian loved to watch as a fight between dwarfs and women, and… About Commodus Commodus to be described later.

The fighting was conducted throughout the Roman Empire, and even the decree of the first Christian Emperor was not able to break this tradition. Geographically, the amphitheatres were scattered throughout the territory of modern Italy. They existed on the territory of Tunisia and Spain. However, over time, gladiatorial fights stopped as a relic of the pagan era.

The essence of the battle? Here we enter the field of modern myth-making, because a lot of people believes that the essence of these fights is to satisfy the powers that be, to kill innocent and powerless slaves in the eyes of a wild crowd, with which we strongly disagree.

Gladiatorial combat was, of course, bloodthirsty modern Boxing, but he rarely aims to kill a man. It is by and large was the Roman show the type of wrestling where the fighters competed in between strength and mastery of weapons. Yes, indeed, in the arena there were cases of death, but death had found there only inexperienced novices. Soldiers of the highest category, as a rule, not trying to kill each other. They came to the arena, deliberately prolonged the battle and put my body under threat, from the point of view of life, blows, thereby relying on the goodwill of the viewer. They showed their skill and tenacity, no one fought beforehand, the fight was kind of a circus. On average, based on Roman sources, ended with the death of at least 3 fights out of 10.

We should also mention the figure of gladiators. Many believe that these guys were noble ducks, which we can now see in gyms. Mountain of muscle, and only. And looking at such movies as «Gladiator», you begin to believe it all. However, archaeologists sometimes give us interesting news. Now, a group of Austrian researchers from the University of Vienna have studied the remains of 70 gladiators buried at the Roman cemetery of the city of Ephesus. It turned out that the gladiators were not ducks, but real fat. In addition, it was found out that fighters were the more vegetarians: eat barley porridge and beans. At first the researchers were surprised, but after they suggested that such a diet is allowed to build up a layer of fat to the extent where it could protect vital organs from edged weapons. Bone density was also higher.

There were many Gladiator schools, where he studied the soldiers. The idea that the arena drove ordinary slaves, the myth, because no one wants to watch a battle of people who can’t keep a weapon in his hands. Each fighter had to be skilled in handling any weapons. So Gladiator and quite expensive: education, food, and health care. Conducted numerous medical examinations, and many of the gladiators, especially the real professionals, paid a lot of money.

We all know the story of the Gladiator Spartacus, who raised the largest slave rebellion in Roman history. In our opinion, this event is somewhat overrated, but fuck this. The main fact is that Spartacus was not originally a slave. This man was punished by fighting in the arena for desertion from the Roman army. And thus the gladiators came to many people. In fact, it’s war criminals, which in the worst case would be waiting for execution. Prisoners is the type of Gladiator that existed in the days of the Republic and during the Empire. Next come the deserters, criminals, and other marginal elements. They got to the arena, and for obvious crimes. Was and slaves. But they usually were a minority among the gladiators. The audience noted that gladiators and slaves fight without enthusiasm. And who should be lethargic show, especially one so expensive? Was and free people, who went to the gladiators. They were called auctoritas, and during the Empire they were so numerous that at times they outweighed his many Gladiator-slaves.

And, of course, was a guy like the Emperor Commodus, who «deified» Gladiator fights and he diligently tried to join the number of gladiators. Except that in his harem there were hundreds of women and boys, Commodus stood out because liked to put literally shit in their food court, wore women’s clothes, played the doctor with real people and, of course, he took part in gladiatorial combat. As a Gladiator Commodus came to the arena 735 times. Contemporaries extravagant Emperor claimed that he, the ruler of Rome, was able to break a spear an elephant and a lion kill with a single throw of the dart. This Emperor was identified with the Greek Hercules. Apparently, he thought he is some reincarnation of this ancient hero. E. Gibbon in his «history of fall» describes the case when the Commodus, winning some kind of Gladiator fight, took all the money that was in the gladiatorial schools. That’s what he was.

Relative wages. So, these «poor disenfranchised slaves» regularly paid. For example, rudari (Gladiator, granted freedom but chose to remain a Gladiator) were obtained for each bout of not less than 12 thousand sesterces. A lot or a little? Everything is relative. For example, the Roman peasant or artisan took about 500 sesterces to feed the family throughout the year. Also Roman historians note that Adam was not only the poor but also children of senators, wealthy merchants, and the other «Golden youth». And they did it not only for money but for fame, lack of thrills in city life, and, of course, for the sake of her friends, who lay in stacks around any successful Gladiator. Everything in the modern world.

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