The Gladiators (The Latin Gladiators from gladius, sword meaning “sword fighter” or “swordsmen”) are fighters who usually compete with well-defined pairs, each of two rivals in a category called Armature, equipped with weapons, armor and specific fighting techniques . These are fights of athletic men, less often of women (gladiators) and exclusively of gnomes or children.
Spectacle combat is a centuries-old phenomenon that affects most ancient societies, it is known in various forms and has several stages of development. In ancient Rome, the origin of the minus (gladiator fight) can be found in southern Italy, where armed combat between members of the deceased’s retinue or prisoners of war is intended to honor the memory of the deceased. This martial art became a coherent sporting spectacle in the Roman Empire, run by true professionals, arranged to please the plebs and provide quality entertainment where death was at stake.
The gladiator is an institution that Roman gladiators fight in circuses. More than bloody entertainment, about which the visual arts and literature continue to convey a large number of clichés (Police verso, the systematic death of the vanquished, slaves forced to fight against their will, fantastic weapons and equipment … so many clichés that usually attract their inspired vision moralizing and voyeurism from the Romantic period of the 19th century) contradicted sources and experimental archaeology, gladiatorial includes various basic aspects for understanding Roman civilization.
religious aspects (funeral games, dimensions of the sacredness of Lodi), political (Evergetism, ideological preparation for war, imperial propaganda), athletes (training, very elaborate technique), military (the epitome of the fighting spirit of the Romans, their martial courage and contempt for death, military virtues constituting one of the pillars of Roman society), economic (financial weight of the organization of the show) and social (pan me et circuses, a symbolic depiction, even theatrical, not an actual murder).
The sources are relatively numerous, but unevenly distributed in time: they are not absent for the Upper Empire, but are much rarer for other eras. They are of a varied nature: literary, epigraphic and iconographic sources, but also, although very rare, artefacts.
The Romans did not leave us a gladiatorial “treaty.” By way of compensation, we have many literary sources whose subject is not gladiatorial art, but from which we can glean scattered information.
Iconography abounds (the iconographic corpus compiled by Eric Tessier includes about 1600 images) and various supports: mosaics, bas-reliefs, figurines, paintings, molded glass goblets, as well as graffiti, as well as many medallions with lamps. Oil. He tells us about the arsenal of gladiators or about their fighting techniques and their evolution.
It is epigraphy that allows us to discover individual destinies through gravestone inscriptions rich in information about the age, origin, career, family of the gladiator, or even his mentality.
Artifacts are extremely rare. Most of the discovered equipment was in one place – in the barracks of the gladiators of Pompeii.
The oldest depictions of ritual combat in Italy have been found in Campania in the tombs of Lucania at Paestum, dated to 380–320 BC. with three pairs of slaves organized by Decius Julius Brutus during his father’s funeral at the Bull Forum, the bull market in Rome, a place of a utilitarian nature and without prestige, located near the northern end of the Circus Maximus.
The Etruscan hypothesis about the origin of the gladiators, based on the unanimous opinion of ancient authors on this matter, prevailed for a long time. Formulated in 1845 by Wilhelm Hansen, then Mommsen and Friedlander, it is based on a dubious interpretation of “the texts of three authors, Nicholas of Damascus, Tertullian and Isadore, ill-dated monuments, and, above all, the dubious idea of cruelty in particular.”
Etruscan “. In 1909, Fritz Wedge (de) proposed an OSCO – Samnite hypothesis based on funerary paintings from Campagna and Lucania (Lucanian tombs at Paestum, dated between 380 and 320 BC. J.-C.) at the beginning of the 4th century BC. AD, which represents the Samnite gladiators. The funerary nature of these scenes is undeniable, and the jousts of these “prégladiateurs” are presented along with other games such as boxing matches or chariot races. They take place in the presence of the referee and we can see.
without further explanation, that blood is flowing and that one of the two fighters has fallen. The Latin word minus (plural mineral (an) , gifts offered by wealthy nobles, the most famous of which becomes minus gladiatorum , gladiator fight), for a gladiator fight, originally means “gift” and is ideal for this funeral setting. The current state of knowledge allows one to simply say that “at the beginning of the 4th century or earlier, the gladiator was invented in southern Italy – creating a composite population, Oscan, Samnite, Etruscan: we shall not attempt to define more”.
Tertullian’s writings suggest that gladiator ship is inherited from this expiatory and propitiatory funerary rite, a type of human sacrifice ritual practiced in all civilizations for the purpose of honoring the spirits of the dead and reconciling the infernal gods with blood. a person, sacrificing part of the retinue of the glorified dead (his servant, his wife) or prisoners of war at the grave of a warrior.
Gladiator ship would be a rite to replace this sacrifice with a battle on the grave. A more realistic suggestion is that the gladiator would have been one of the events of the funeral games (c) (Lodi’s funeral with insulting gladiators-bestiaries-kola people-near the funeral pyres) so agonistic rather than sacrificial. Thus, the origins of gladiator ship can be found in the softened form of human sacrifice accompanying the funeral of a great man, as occurs in Canto XXIII of the Iliad, where Homer recounts that after Patroclus’s cremation, Achilles arranges funeral games in his honor. which includes the hoplomachy (armed combat that ends at the first blood), which is contested by Diomedes and Ajax.