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Rome's Colosseum - Who are the Gladiators?

Some of the gladiators in ancient Rome are foreigners, captured by Roman legions. About half are under contract, having sold themselves (usually for five years) to pay off debts.

As work on Vespasian’s colossal arena continues (called, at this time, the Flavian Amphitheater), quarry slaves are commanded to work even harder and gladiators train for seemingly endless hours. Titus, the emperor’s son, wants the place finished before his father dies.

After months of training, only the best gladiators are selected to perform. Before their fights - often with trainees from other gladiator schools - some of them offer gifts to Nemesis, the Roman god of chance. They fight in smaller arenas, near the outskirts of Rome, where the games have rules and referees.

If a gladiator loses the fight, the audience decides whether he lives or dies.


Media Credits

This video clip is from the BBC’s documentary drama Colosseum: A Gladiator's Story.  Copyright, BBC, all rights reserved.  Clip provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the program.  Online, courtesy BBC Worldwide Channel at YouTube.

 

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