Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Are You Entertained?- Part 3

So how did a gladiator win the crowd? Regardless of how he felt about fighting for the pleasure of others, his life could depend on earning their favor.

A gladiator's play for a following started long before he ever reached the arena. He had to train to be the best. He had to make sure could move the fastest, go the longest, and look the best doing it too. Like today with actors, a gladiator could win a large crowd of admirers by looking like a "god". The face of Apollo (god of youth), the body of Ares (god of war), the strength of Hephaestus (god of the forge).

Often wealthy men and women would come to the gladiator schools to watch the gladiators train. Sometimes the young men might jump in to "train" with them so they could gloat to all their friends that they had survived amongst the fighters. All this time, the gladiators would do their best to draw attention to both their looks and their abilities. An interested bystander would leave, spreading gossip about the new gladiator, "And oh is he not divine. He fights like Ares stands beside him."

With the whispers of his prowess begun, the gladiator (let us call this one Atretes- after Francine River's reformed gladiator from Sure as the Dawn) would convince the Lanista to promote the games by putting his name in the advertisements. A slave would go around the city painting the ad on walls, "Come watch the games..... Watch Atretes battle three men...".

Once people came to watch him, all Atretes had to do was win. With his fame already in the people's minds, he only had to confirm it. But how would he do this? There were many different types of gladiators, to vary the fights, all determined by the weapons they used. A few were: the Retiarii who fought with tridents and nets, the Murmilliones who fought with a gladius, and the Laquerii who used lassos. Here is a link to a good list.

Retiarii vs. Secutores
If Atretes keeps winning, he can be rented out for parties. Wealthy merchants and politicians, most who have paid for him to enter the arena, will expect him to entertain them with his presence at their feasts. What does he get? More fans and a night out of his cell while his Lanista pockets the money. Inn keepers will also pay for him to spend the night in their inns, drawing in customers who want to see Atretes or sleep in the same place he did. Any of this sound familiar?

 Why would Atretes put up with being treated like this? Well it could be for fame itself. Many gladiators liked the attention and the women (or men- Romans were well known for some of their citizens' homosexuality). To many a gladiator, it was better being a slave in the arena then a slave in the fields or some such thing. For others it was their one means of freedom.

A gladiator with the support of the mob might survive one or two lost matches just because no one was ready to part with them. If they did, they might make it to the elimination games (the title of which escapes me). In these games, all the best fighters from all the Lanistas in the city and around would fight in elimination rounds. These literally were fights to the death as Atretes can only move on by killing all his opponents. If he is the last one standing, he gains his freedom, able to live his live the way he chooses.

Sadly, with the years he spent fighting and killing in the arena, Atretes will probably not know what to do in society. He will have to buy a wife as no respectable woman would except his proposal. Trained to kill, he will have few skills outside of which in order to gain employment. Likely, he will become a Lanista, a mercenary, or a bodyguard. If he is lucky, his fame might last outside the arena for a few years and he can hire himself out to parties, earning enough money to perhaps buy an inn to host gladiators himself.


P.S. And those of you wondering how Atretes really turns out.. Read the book, it is awesome. I promise, it has a happy ending. Unlike my post.


  1. Wow. Way to go Bekah! I've read those Gladiator books by Carla Capshaw but I didn't really know all this, at least not in that much detail. I might just read the book that you mentioned now. Interesting stuff!:0 :)

    1. Thanks. That book is the third in the series.