The Romans were influenced by their predecessors in Italy, the Etruscans, in many ways. For example, in the use of animal sacrifice for divining the future, the use of the symbolic fasces and organising gladiatorial games. The Etruscans associated these contests with the rites of death and so they had a certain religious significance. Although the first privately organised Roman gladiator contests in 264 BCE were to commemorate the death of a father, the later official contests discarded this element.
In 174 B.C.E., the games changed forever. When the popular general Titus Quinctius Flaminius died, his
munera lasted for three days and was held during the Saturnalia festival. During this event, seventy-four gladiators fought. For the first time in history, the gladiators took center stage and overshadowed other funeral events. After 150 B.C.E., the games became more and more about pleasing the masses and gaining political prestige. The growing attendance of the games required a large venue, the Roman Forum. Eventually, free standing amphitheatres were constructed for the purpose of gladiator contests.



The Flavian Amphitheater

the massive stone amphitheater known as the Colosseum was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people.but was not completed and opened until 80 AD by his son Titus

Amphitheatre of Pompeii

The Amphitheatre of Pompeii is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre. It is located in the Roman city of Pompeii, and was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, that also buried Pompeii itself and the neighboring town of Herculaneum. It is also the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre built with stone.

Italica Amphitheatre

The fifth-largest Roman Amphitheatre is found in the province of Sevilla, Spain. Its building dimensions are 156.5 × 134 meters and its arena dimensions are 71. 2 × 46.2 meters.[17] Built in the reign of Adrian's Empire, 117-138 AD, the Italica amphitheatre could hold up to 25,000 people and still stands today.

Trier Amphitheatre

Trier and its amphitheater resembled many Roman cities of its time in that many infamous gladiatorial contests occurred there. The theater which was dug into the side of a hill was erected around the 2nd century A.D during Antoninus Pius' rule. It could accommodate approximately 20,000 spectators and was built into what was the cities wall. When Constantius Chlorus moved to Trier, Germany around 293 he renovated the amphitheater

The Amphitheatre of Mérida

Roman amphitheatre situated in the Roman colony of Emerita Augusta, present-day Mérida, in Spain. The city itself, Emerita Augusta, was founded in 25 BC by Augustus, Emperor Augustus decided that the city should become the capital of the province of Belgica. Shortly before AD 100, an amphitheatre was built, the signal sign of a city of any importance


The Roman Rules

The games were not bloody free-for-alls, but organized events. Since gladiators were expensive to train and keep, death was not a desired outcome for a lanista. A referee and an assistant oversaw the combat. If an opponent was injured, both men would stop and the referee would determine if the contest would continue. Gladiators who lost could attempt to gain mercy from the crowd by raising their index finger. The editor of the game would decide if the gladiator would be spared. Sometimes the editor would ask the crowd. If mercy was not granted, the gladiator would either kneel and be executed by sword or, if they were too injured to kneel, be killed by a single stab to the heart.


5th-century mosaic in the Great Palace of Constantinople depicts two venatores fighting a tiger.

the bestiarii were combatants who fought animals and not humans. Roman emperors and senators
used exotic and powerful animals TO show off their wealth,
and put on a spectacle SHOWSfor the crowds at the Colosseum and amphitheaters


The term gladiator derives from the Latin gladiatores in reference to their principal weapon the gladius or short sword. However, there were a wide range of other weapons employed in gladiator contests. The gladiators also wore armour and their helmets, in particular, were objects of great workmanship, richly embossed with decorative motifs and set with ostrich or peacock plumed crests. Weapons and armour though depended on which class a gladiator belonged to. There were many classes of gladiators.

The Samnite

A Samnite (Latin Samnis, plural Samnites) was a Roman gladiator who fought with equipment styled on that of a warrior from Samnium: a short sword (gladius), a rectangular shield (scutum), a greave (ocrea), and a helmet. Warriors armed in such a way were the earliest gladiators in the Roman games. They appeared in Rome shortly after the defeat of Samnium in the 4th century BC, apparently adopted from the victory celebrations of Rome's allies in Campania. By arming low-status gladiators in the manner of a defeated foe, Romans mocked the Samnites and appropriated martial elements of their culture.

The Thracian

The Thraeces, or Thracian, was a type of Roman gladiator, armed in the Thracian style with small rectangular, square or circular shield called a parmula (about 60 x 65 cm) and a very short sword with a slightly curved blade called a sica, intended to maim an opponent's unarmoured back. His other armour included armoured greaves (necessitated by the smallness of the shield), a protector for his sword arm and shoulder, a protective belt above a loin cloth, and a helmet with a side plume, visor and high crest.

The Myrmillo

The murmillo was a type of gladiator during the Roman Imperial age. The murmillo-class gladiator was adopted in the early Imperial period to replace the earlier Gallus, named after the warriors of Gaul. As the Gauls inhabiting Italy had become well-integrated with the Romans by the time of the reign of Augustus, it became undesirable to portray them as enemy outsiders;[dubious – discuss] the Gallus-class gladiator thus had to be retired.

The Retiarius

A retiarius (plural retiarii; literally, "net-man" or "net-fighter" in Latin) was a Roman gladiator who fought with equipment styled on that of a fisherman: a weighted net a three-pointed trident and a dagger. The retiarius was lightly armoured, wearing an arm guard manica and a shoulder guard. Typically, his clothing consisted only of a loincloth (subligaculum) held in place by a wide belt, or of a short tunic with light padding. He wore no head protection or footwear.

There were various classes of gladiators,there were also the andabatae, who are believed to have fought on horseback and to have worn helmets with closed visors—that is, to have fought blindfolded; the dimachaeri “two-knife men” of the later empire, who carried a short sword in each hand; the essedarii “chariot men”, who fought from chariots like the ancient Britons; the hoplomachi “fighters in armour”, who wore a complete suit of armour; and the laquearii “lasso men”, who tried to lasso their antagonists.





Mérida amphitheatre-K

Mérida Spain; mural of beast hunt,

“venatores” and “bestiarii,” special classes of warrior who fought aniamals from deer and ostriches to lions, crocodiles, bears



Reliefs of a provocateur and of gladiatorial combat, 3rd century AD, from Ephesus Turkey

Relief of gladiators Mérida, Spain

Emerita Augusta- Mérida Amphitheatre

The gladiator games lasted for nearly a thousand years, reaching their peak between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD


Gladiator contests, at odds with the new Christian-minded Empire, finally came to an end in 404 CE. Emperor Honorius had closed down the gladiator schools five years before and the final straw for the games came when a monk from Asia Minor, one Telemachus, leapt between two gladiators to stop the bloodshed and the indignant crowd stoned the monk to death. Honorius in consequence formally prohibited gladiatorial contests,