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date: 28 September 2020

Gladiator Competitions 

Source:
Berkshire Encyclopedia of World Sport
Author(s):
Joanne Margaret HYNES-HUNTERJoanne Margaret HYNES-HUNTER

Gladiator games began in the Roman Empire circa 300 bce, and were abolished 700 years later. During the 100-day inauguration of the biggest arena for gladiator combat, the Roman Colosseum, in 80 ce, nine thousand animals and two thousand gladiators lost their lives. Gladiators were paid handsomely each time they fought, and eventually could win their freedom. Some classes of gladiator fought naked and weaponless, some had heavy armor and used a variety of weapons, some handled animals, and some rode into battle on horses. Movies have popularized the notion that the crowd used the signal “thumbs down” or “thumbs up” to call for the killing or sparing the life of a gladiator, but there is no evidence for this. ...

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