Even with the deadly matches and fierce competition, almost 90 percent of trained gladiators survived the matches (although you were basically a dead man walking if you were an untrained gladiator sent into the arena). They also had access to some of the best medical care available in Ancient Rome.
A gladiator typically took on a distinct persona—and the weapons to go with it. For instance, during the second and third centuries theretiarius-and-secutor gladiator pairing was the most popular. "The retiarius was the 'fisherman,' who fought with a net, a gladius, and a trident [and was] protected with just a small shoulder shield," Kanz said. "His opponent, the secutor, was the 'fish,' protected by a fishlike helmet with very narrow eye holes and a large shield, and fighting with a gladius," Kanz said.
If two gladiators both fought bravely and were equally matched, sometimes both would walk out of the arena alive. Such an incident was recorded by the poet Martial about a fight between Priscus and Verus, who fought as Emperor Titus opened the amphitheater for the gladiatorial games. Because of their fight, both were awarded their freedom that day. You can see a reenactment of the fight in this BBC docudrama about the fight:
And here is an English translation of Martial's poem (Latin version here):
As Priscus and Verus each drew out the contest
And the struggle between the pair long stood equal,
Shouts loud and often sought discharge for the combatants.
But Titus obeyed his own law
(the law was that the bout go on without shield until a finger be raised).
What he could do, he did, often giving dishes and presents.
But an end to the even strife was found:equal they fought, equal they yielded.
To both Titus sent wooden swords and to both palms.
Thus valor and skill had their reward.
This has happened under no prince but you, Caesar:
Two fought and both won.
A Day at at the Flavian Amphitheatre
The spectacle day began in the morning with the presentation of all the participants (pompa). This was followed by the venationes, hunts in which hunters tackled wild animals lurking among sets replicating the geographical contexts from which they came.
During the lunch interval, when executions ad bestias took place, the condemned, naked and unarmed, faced the wild beasts which would eventually tear them to pieces. During the intervals, there were performances by jugglers, acrobats, and magicians, as well as parodies and re-enactments of ancient myths.
Finally, gladiatorial combats (the munera) were held in the afternoon. Their origin, perhaps Etruscan or Samnite, was linked to funerary celebrations in honor of eminent individuals. The participants in these combats were usually prisoners of war or slaves, but some gladiators were free men seeking fame and fortune. There were categories of gladiators distinguished by their weapons and techniques. Those who were defeated in a duel could hope to be pardoned by the emperor or the audience, saving their life.
Thanks to their popularity, the games (ludi) were often financed by politicians who hoped to curry favor with the public whereas intellectuals saw these spectacles as a means of swaying public opinion and as a cause of spiritual decadence.
Before heading over to the Palatino and the Foro Romano, I stopped at the Pasqualino al Colosseo (map) for a pizza margarita and a glass of vino bianco for lunch. The food was okay, and even though the initial waiter was good, the one who actually took our food tried to give me trouble about asking for a glass of tap water (it escalated to him telling me that they do not have water at all and me saying, "oh really? do you wash the dishes? what do you use to wash the dishes?" until he acquiesced).
|Arco di Tito|
|Statue of Apollo, Palatine Hill Museum|
The area's development peaked with the victorious end of the Punic Wars in the 2nd century BCE when four basilicas were built: the Porcia, Opimia, Aemilia, and Sempronia. Later, first under Julius Caesar and then Augustus and the early emperors (1st century BCE to 1st century AD), the Forum gradually took on a different role - that of monumental center and place of religious memory while public life moved to the nearby Imperial Forums. As a consequence, building activities were interrupted, with one last moment of glory in the late empire with the construction of the honorary columns and equestrian statues.
True decline began with the imperial court's move to Ravenna and the edicts of the 4th century AD decreeing the closure of the temples, some of which were turned into churches. This was followed in the 5th century by the Visigoth and Vandal invasions. The abandoned buildings fell into ruin while the ground level of the Forum rose to cover what remained. Buried in vegetation and now on the edge of the city, the square became a pasture with the name Campo Vaccino ("Cow's Field").
|Temple of Romulus|
|Temple of Antoninus and Faustina|
|Temple of Castor & Pollux|
|Palatino, Imperial Palace|
|Palatino, Imperial Palace|
|Circo Massimo with Palatino Hill above|
|Delicious canoli with Grapefruit juice.|
Taverna della Scala (Italian; English; map), where I had some pretty delicious penne all'arrabbiata.
|Like a real midwestern American, I added the Parmesan cheese.|
|Roman Forum at Night|
|Colosseum at Night|