The Rise and Fall of Gladiatorial Games in Ancient Rome

TLDR Gladiatorial games in ancient Rome began as a way to honor the dead but eventually became a popular form of public entertainment. Gladiators, who came from various social classes, fought in different styles and received high-quality medical care, but the games eventually lost popularity and were banned due to their expense and opposition from early Christian writers.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Gladiators in ancient Rome were not always killed in the arena, their fate was not solely determined by the emperor, and gladiatorial contests were a popular form of public entertainment.
02:31 The origin of gladiatorial games in ancient Rome is uncertain, but they may have been adopted from earlier Etruscan funeral rites or the traditions of another Italian tribe, and they started as a way to honor the dead but eventually became more elaborate and celebratory.
04:38 Gladiatorial games in ancient Rome began as state-sponsored events in 105 BC and eventually became a staple of Roman celebrations, with the majority of gladiators being slaves who were trained and fought in different styles to put on a good show for the crowd.
06:50 Gladiators in ancient Rome had different fighting styles and were often pitted against each other based on their weapons, armor, and agility, with the goal of putting on a good show for the crowd; they were also intentionally fed high-carbohydrate diets to create a layer of fat for protection, and received some of the best medical care available at the time, with one famous surgeon, Galen of Pergamon, getting his start treating gladiators.
09:01 Gladiators had a relatively high chance of surviving fights in the arena, but many likely died later from infections caused by wounds; the average gladiator only fought a few times a year due to the toll it took on their bodies, and referees played an important role in the fights, while the phrase "we who are about to die salute you" was likely not commonly used before fights.
11:17 Gladiatorial combat hand signals were likely the opposite of what is commonly believed, with a thumbs down or closed fist indicating sparing the opponent and a thumbs up being an insult; gladiators could come from various social classes, including free men and even members of the upper class; gladiators could become wealthy and popular despite their low social status; there were special events and even female gladiators, but the use of women in gladiatorial combat was eventually banned; the end of gladiatorial games in Rome was due to their expense and the rise of Christianity.
13:28 Gladiatorial games were condemned by early Christian writers, banned by the emperor Honorius in 399 and 404, and eventually lost popularity and interest, leading to their formal ban and closure of gladiatorial schools.
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