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 A gladiator was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their legal and social standing and their lives by appearing in the arena. Most were despised as slaves, schooled under harsh conditions, socially marginalized, and segregated even in death. Irrespective of their origin, gladiators offered audiences an example of Rome's martial ethics and, in fighting or dying well, they could inspire admiration and popular acclaim. They were celebrated in high and low art, and their value as entertainers was commemorated in precious and commonplace objects throughout the Roman world.

The origin of gladiatorial combat is open to debate. There is evidence of it in funeral rites during the Punic Wars of the 3rd century BCE, and thereafter it rapidly became an essential feature of politics and social life in the Roman world. Its popularity led to its use in ever more lavish and costly spectacles or "gladiatorial games". The games reached their peak between the 1st century BCE and the 2nd century CE, and they persisted not only throughout the social and economic crises of the declining Roman state but even after Christianity became the official religion in the 4th century CE. Christian emperors continued to sponsor such entertainments until at least the late 5th century CE, when the last known gladiator games took place.

The trade in gladiators was Empire-wide, and subjected to strict official control. Rome's military success produced an influx of soldier-prisoners who were redistributed for use in State mines or amphitheatres and for sale on the open market. For example, in the aftermath of the Jewish Revolt, the gladiator schools received an influx of Jews – those rejected for training would have been sent straight to the arenas as noxii.The best – the most robust – were sent to Rome. The granting of slave status to soldiers who had surrendered or allowed their own capture was regarded as an unmerited gift of life and gladiator training was an opportunity for them to regain their honour in the munus.
 


Two other sources of gladiators, found increasingly during the Principate and the Pax Romana, were slaves condemned to the arena, to gladiator schools or games as punishment for crimes, and paid volunteers who by the late Republic may have comprised approximately half – and possibly the most capable half – of all gladiators.The use of volunteers had a precedent in the Iberian munus of Scipio Africanus; but none of those had been paid.For Romans, "gladiator" would have meant a schooled fighter, sworn and contracted to a master.

 

For those who were poor or non-citizens, the gladiator schools offered a trade, regular food, housing of sorts and a fighting chance of fame and fortune. Gladiators customarily kept their prize money and any gifts they received. Tiberius offered some retired gladiators 100,000 sesterces for a return to the arena.Nero gave the gladiator Spiculus property and residence "equal to those of men who had celebrated triumphs".Marcus Antonius promoted gladiators to his personal guard.




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Seduction
Leader Spirit
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The sword slash
Taint
 
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