Gladiators-Themed Movies and Roman Empire

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Gladiators can be called the resident warriors the Roman empire who fought solely for the entertainment of the masses. Some would fight with weapons while others would wrestle it out in the arena. These large fighting events would take place in arenas called colosseums. Each arena could host more than 50,000 spectators at a time and each event would spur the same level of excitement as the last one. These battles used to be held at grand scales and involved a lot of violence backed with the popularity a gladiator would gain after defeating his opponent. This was because it served as a form of entertainment which both the rich and poor people could easily afford. 

Many gladiators-themed movies and dramas have been created in our modern-day media. But not all of them have shown the right facts about their history. In this article, we will discuss the true history of gladiators in detail. Roman gladiator facts: Before gladiatorial events the rage was for Munera events: It is believed that Munera events are the predecessors of gladiatorial events. Munera events started out in 264 BC when a noble named Brutus put up a death wish in which he asked both his sons to organize and pay for a fighting which would take place in their neighborhood marketplace. The event would commemorate Brutus’s death. 

After this event, other people also started to organize such events and they would employ their own slaves to be the fighters in the arena. One such death duel took place in 174 BC in which a record-breaking 74 fighter participated over a span of three days. Moving further, the Munera spectacles also evolved into hunting events called Venatio- they involved the hunting of exotic animals through a different class of gladiators called Venatores. Each Venatores would be equipped with weapons specifically designed for hunting. 

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Venatio battles were a class apart from gladiatorial events in which exotic animals like tigers, lions, and rare birds were only hunted for the purpose of entertainment of the masses. As the Roman empire grew, the craze for such events also rose. The elite would organize such events on a small scale during parties and they became so necessary that a person would include them as a death wish in their wills. Due to their popularity, a lot of people favored these spectacles, however, there was kin which found the events to be displeasing. 

This can be justified, through an incident which occurred during the reign of Tiberius. The incident involved several town people who stopped a funeral procession and demanded a Munera event. The situation slowly turned into a grave protest and Tiberius ultimately called in soldiers to ward off the protestors. Battling arenas to hold the events: As discussed above, the craze for such events grew tremendously, due to which the organizers/sponsors had to arrange an assortment of small events at specialized venues called colosseums. The munera battles eventually took the form of gladiator games. 

Approximately 186 amphitheaters were built across the Roman kingdom excluding the Forum and their structure was generally made from wood which was filled with sand. Noted historical architect Jean Claude Golvin also believed that there were 86 additional locations where these battling arenas were built for the gladiator bloodshed. Also, the huge popularity of these duels made the arenas overcrowded by excited spectators. There is one incident in Roman history which occurred in Fidenae- during the gladiatorial event the entire battling arena collapsed and it caused the death of more than 50,000 spectators. Hoplomachi- the professional fighters: As discussed earlier, the Munera spectacles were rough battles in which slaves fought each other with less or no weapons. 

These battles were followed by gladiatorial battles in which a new breed of warriors came into existence. These warriors were called Hoplomachi and they had distinct fighting skills. The Hoplomachis would wear steel armors and claimed recognition due to their gruesome fighting style in the arenas. In fact, Hoplomachis are the gladiators you will often see in most historical dramas and movies. They were highly skilled warriors whose weapons included small swords called gladius. 

The hoplomachi’s sole purpose to entertain the bustling crowd of spectators and their battles would range from single duels to staged spectacles. The staged duels were a pleasing variation to the common bloody battles. Even though they also involved bloodshed but the Hoplomalchis would prolong the battle by slowly attacking their opponents and the battle would end when the opponent’s blood would spill on the sand. This gave them the image of fearless stuntmen whose sole purpose was to provide entertainment to ruthless spectators.  

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