HP298 Humanities Research

General Information

Gladiators were condemned criminals, prisoners of war, or slaves bought for the purpose of gladiatorial combat by lanista, or an owner of gladiators. However, there were also some free men who voluntarily participated in the games in the gladiatorial arena. Though low on the social scale, free men who succeeded in the games often found popularity and patronage of wealthy Roman citizens.Citizens legally derogated as infamus sold themselves to lanistae and were known as auctorati. Condemned criminals, the damnati ad mortem, entered the gladiatorial arena weaponless and were usually swiftly killed. Gladiators who were freemen and slaves were trained in private gladiator schools called ludi, where gladiators were taugh combat techniques designed to disable and capture their opponents rather than kill them quickly. In addition to the human combat, the games often featured spectacles of wild beasts fighting each other and other gladiators. Gladiators fought with the weapons and armor of their choice and could earn their freedom if they survived three to five years of combat. Although gladiators usually only fought two or three times a year, few survived the necessary three to five years to gain their freedom.