roman gladiators and the coliseum
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Roman Gladiators and the Coliseum. The Coliseum. Travertine marble from Tivoli via a special road 527 meters in circumference 188m X 156m Arena area: 3,500 square meters Height 57 meters Awnings Seating 45,000 with another 5,000 standing. Typical Schedule. Morning – beast hunts

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the coliseum
The Coliseum
  • Travertine marble from Tivoli via a special road
  • 527 meters in circumference
  • 188m X 156m
  • Arena area: 3,500 square meters
  • Height 57 meters
  • Awnings
  • Seating 45,000 with another 5,000 standing
typical schedule
Typical Schedule
  • Morning – beast hunts
  • Lunch Time – executions
  • Afternoon – Gladiators
  • Usually about 10 days a year. Fans spent all day at the special event.
  • Individual gladiators only fought about 2-3 times a year.
how did the displays get put on
How did the Displays get put on?
  • The Government regulated Gladiators:
    • Set up Gladiator schools
    • Procuring wild animals – the more exotic the better!
      • Hippos, rhinos, lions, tigers, bears, ostriches…
  • Competition – Entertainment was the Goal!
    • Gladiators
      • Did not fight animals – animal fighters called beastiaries
      • Gladiators usually evenly matched to ensure a dramatic fight
    • Animal Fights – could have different numbers of animals and men as well as unusual fighting combinations
  • Each “festival day” planned to be an impressive event to draw in massive crowds. – each bigger and better than the last.
  • Creative pairings of animals or evenly matched trained fighters were sure to spark interest and ensure impressive fighting.
becoming a gladiator
Becoming a Gladiator
  • Usually recruited from slaves, criminals, and prisoners of war
  • Training a gladiator was expensive so the gladiator was considered the property of the trainer
  • Gladiator schools were called ludi
  • Worn to ward off small wounds
    • Don’t want a gladiator unable to fight due to something minor.
    • Large wounds would be fatal anyway
  • Regulations on kinds of armor worn to ensure a fair fight
  • Helmets made gladiators look sinister
    • Maybe made killing a long time training partner a bit easier – metal mesh covered the eye holes.
the gladiatorial combat itself
The Gladiatorial Combat Itself
  • Gladiator Banquet the night before: public allowed to view the fighters (made for lively betting the next day)
  • Day of Combat
    • Gladiator parade
    • Weapons examined
    • Music
    • Betting
gladiator specialties
Gladiator Specialties
  • Samite – carried a sword, rectangular shield, armor on right arm and left leg
  • Thracian – short sword (sica), and small round shield (parma)
  • Retiarius– no armor but had a net and a 3 pronged trident
decisions decisions
Decisions, Decisions
  • Gladiators fought to render the other fighter helpless
  • Once one fighter was helpless, the victorious gladiator turned to the sponsor to decide if the loser should live or die
  • The crowd sometimes swayed the decision
  • Thumbs Up = kill him
  • Thumbs Down = spare him to fight another day
  • If thumbs up the loser extends his neck to be killed.
  • Losing gladiators sometimes spared if they fought bravely
Gladiators were low on social scale – usually began as prisoners or criminals
  • Gladiators could become heroes if successful fighters
  • If a gladiator survived 3-5 years they were often set free
did combat automatically end in death
Did Combat automatically end in death?
  • No, a very successful fighter might eventually earn his freedom
  • Most eventually died in battle
  • Inscriptions on graves gave info about age and number of fights
  • Average gladiator age was 18-22
gladiator games only one form of public entertainment
Gladiator Games only one form of Public Entertainment
  • Theater and Plays
  • Chariot Races (really dedicated fans)
  • Gladiators
  • Religious Festivals
  • Readings and Speeches
  • Same people go to ALL of these types of events – people don’t tend to be as diverse today
gladiatorial fights
Gladiatorial Fights
  • Huge increase in scale over time
  • First match held at a funeral celebration in 264 BCE with 3 pairs of gladiators (an Etruscan tradition before this)
  • 216 BCE = 22 pairs of fighters
  • 183 BCE = 60 pairs of fighters
  • Julius Caesar has an event in 65 BCE in honor of his father that has 160 pairs of fighters
  • 107 CE Emperor Trajan has a 123 day festival with 10,000 pairs of fighters
roman culture more violent than today
Roman Culture more Violent than Today
  • Gladiators
  • Beast Hunts
  • Public Executions
  • Naval Battles
  • Plays with Violence
  • Animal Sacrifices
  • There were no hospitals so people died at home
gladiator shows mirror basic issues of roman life
Gladiator Shows Mirror Basic Issues of Roman Life
  • Military Training
  • Military Domination of the World
  • Gladiators as lessons in life
    • Examples of courage
    • Public executions were reassurance that crime didn’t pay
social classes
Social Classes
  • The Coliseum brought together a variety of people but also defined them into groups
    • The watching and the watched
    • Social classes in the stands
      • Dress: Emperor wore a purple toga, senators a purple stripe on their toga, military displayed medals
      • Seating Area – high class was closer to the action
      • Entrances – separate upper class entrances to the arena
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