Is that true that they were vegetarian? Could women fight in the arena? Did politicians exploit them? Most of all, is that true that “verso pollice” (with a turned thumb) sentenced them to death?
Gladiators averaged out from 20 to 35 years old, but most of them were about 30. Their height was the same of an average person of that time: 168 cm.
2 WHAT WAS THEIR PURPOSE?
According to the modern historians, gladiators were used to curry favor with the population and to distract them from politics, in order to keep the power into upper class’ hands. Moreover, gladiators were used by politicians to gain support from the lowestclasses. Juvenal, a Roman poet active between the 1st and 2nd century AC, summarized this strategy with the words “panem et circenses” (bread and games in the arena).
3 POLITICAL PROPAGANDA
Magistrates and emperors used gladiators to promote themselves and their career. They were so important that it was mandatory for magistrates to offer to the population a game in the arena or a public facility, when they . Almost all of them chose the second, because gladiators granted the best public approval.
Most of the gladiators were not only slaves or former slaves. but also free people who fought due to a contract with a manager. They were often considered as prostitutes and actors. It was common for them to be called “infames” (people with a bad reputation).
5 SEX SYMBOL
Although gladiators were disreputable, they were actual sex symbols. They were beloved by Roman noblewomen, who could do everything for their love. For instance Eppia, a senator’s wife, who left her husband to run away with a gladiator.
(TO BE CONTINUED…)