40 Facts about the Gladiators of Ancient Rome
40 Facts about the Gladiators of Ancient Rome

40 Facts about the Gladiators of Ancient Rome

D.G. Hewitt - April 24, 2019

40 Facts about the Gladiators of Ancient Rome
Nero ended up taking his own life when his favorite gladiator couldn’t help him to died. Daily Telegraph.

3. Emperor Nero was a massive gladiator fan – and even requested his favorite fighter give him a swift death when he was overthrown

When the notorious Emperor Nero was overthrown in 68 AD he had one last request. He wished to be killed by his favorite gladiator, Spiculus. As Emperor, Nero had watched his Spiculus in the arena on many occasions. The gladiator was known for his speed and his skill with a sword. He also became famous for his courage, always taking on the hardest opponents. After Spiculus was made a freeman, Nero lavished him with riches, including several palaces. In the end, however, Nero couldn’t get the gladiator to him in time, so ended up taking his own life.

40 Facts about the Gladiators of Ancient Rome
Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and outlawed gladiators. Ancient Pages.

2. Rome’s first Christian Emperor brought the age of gladiators to an end in the year 325 – though gladiators remained slaves

Gladiatorial games were finally brought to an end in the year 325 by Emperor Constantine. He was the ruler who adopted Christianity as the sole religion of the Empire. Officially, Constantine ruled that such bloody games were unnecessary at a “time of civil and domestic peace”. However, most historians agree that, since Rome was fighting fewer wars by this point, there was no longer a regular supply of victims to play the role of combatants. Far from being set free, slaves who were destined for the arena were simply made to work in the Empire’s mines.

40 Facts about the Gladiators of Ancient Rome
Fights between men and animals continued well after the last gladiator bouts. Pinterest.

1. Organized fights between men and beasts carried on for hundreds of years after gladiators were outlawed

Even after Emperor Constantine outlawed gladiatorial fights in the year 325, gory entertainment continued for another 300 years. Above all, crowds still paid to watch humans fight beasts in so-called venationes until well into the middle of the 6th century. And, of course, gladiators continue to live on in the popular imagination. Spartacus, the most famous gladiator of all, went on to inspire everyone from German Communist revolutionaries to Soviet-era soccer clubs, not to mention artists, writers and movie directors.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“What Kinds of Weapons and Armor Did Gladiators Use?”, N.S. Gill, ThoughtCo, October 30, 2019

“How Did Gladiator Fights End?”, By N.S. Gill, ThoughtCo, October 23, 2019

“Did Female Gladiators Exist?”, BBC Culture, Natalie Haynes, 24th November 2015

“History of Telemachus: the Monk Who Ended the Roman Gladiatorial Games — January 1, A.D. 404”, Bill Petro, Medium, Jan 1, 2020

“Reign of Nero ended in assisted suicide.” Daily Telegraph Australia, June 2018.

“Gladiators, Roman Sports.” Encyclopaedia Britannica.

“11 facts you may not have known about gladiators.” Oxford University Press Blog, September 2016.

“Gladiators in Ancient Rome: how did they live and die?” History Extra Magazine.

“10 places (beside Rome) where gladiators once fought.” Fodors, July 2017.

“In the footsteps of Rome’s gladiators.” The Guardian, October 2010.

Murderous Games: Gladiatorial Contests in Ancient Rome.” History Today.

“Forget the Colosseum – families in Rome should go to gladiator school.” Daily Telegraph, September 2018.

“What Hollywood Got Wrong About The Gladiators Of Ancient Rome”, Verena Greb, DW, 16.09.2020

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