Ancient Rome’s sporting heroes fought for glory, freedom and the roar of the mob
Gladiators of Ancient Rome
G ladiatorial games were the great sporting spectacles of Ancient Rome. Known as the
ludi, they were lavish affairs which, at the height of their popularity during the first and second centuries BC, could last for more than a hundred days and involve thousands of gladiators.
Enemy soldiers were typically forced to become gladiators after being taken prisoner. Others were criminals, usually condemned either to gladiator schools for training or to the arena without it – in which case, they weren’t expected to live for long.
Some were volunteers, hoping for eternal glory. But for most, for the ones who had no choice, the ultimate prize was the rudis, the wooden sword that conferred a gladiator’s freedom.