Daily Life

As mentioned earlier, gladiators were trained at special schools originally owned by private citizens, but later taken over by the imperial state to prevent the build up of a private army. Gladiators trained like true athletes, much like professional athletes do today. They received medical attention and three meals a day. Their training included learning how to use various weapons, including the war chain, net, trident, dagger, and lasso. Each gladiator was allowed to fight in the armor and with the weapons that best suited him. They wore armor, though not Roman military armor as this would send the wrong political signal to the populous. Instead gladiators wore the armor and used the weaponry of non-Roman people, playing the role of Rome's enemies. For instance, a gladiator might dress as a Samnite in Samnite garb that included a large oblong shield (scutum), a metal or boiled leather grieve (ocrea) on the left leg, a visored helmet (galea) with a large crest and plume, and a sword (gladius). The gladiators lived in barracks built especially for them, which were usually located near their home amphitheater. Because they were such expensive investments, gladiators were well fed and received the very best medical care of the day. Also, a gladiator usually did not fight on more than two or three matches each year. The gladiators from their certain ludi traveled together as a group, known as a familia, along with their lanista (trainer), from town to town throughout the Empire for gladiatorial games.