Roman gladiator combat re-enactment

“I will endure, to be burned, to be bound, to be beaten, and to be killed by the sword”
Sacramentum gladiatorium, the oath of the gladiators
- Petronius Satyricon 117

This is the spine-chilling oath of the gladiators. Roman gladiators were technical fighters who were recruited from the slaves and prisoners of war of Rome. They had little or no control over their destiny in an era where human blood and life were cheap. A few were freed as a reward for their service in the arena.

Recent academic opinion is that many or most fights between experienced gladiators did not result in a death of the looser, as sportsmen they were highly valued as showmen and heroes. However the result was usually quite different for combat between an experienced gladiator and a prisoner of war or criminal.

Gladiatorial fights were set not only in the major arenas and the colosseum at Rome but also as the entertainment at private parties.

Josephus, a London classics scholar, writes The passage cited in support the remark is in the fifth book of Strabo's Geography. Strabo was writing about the time of Tiberius, and said about the Campanians (who lived between Latium and Naples): "As for the Campanians, it was their lot, because of the fertility of their country, to enjoy in equal degree both evil things and good. For they were so extravagant that they would invite gladiators, in pairs, to dinner, regulating the number by the importance of the dinners." I haven't been able to summon up the Greek text, so I don't know how accurate this translation is, but it's probably as good as you can get. There's also a reference to something in Nicholas of Damascus, supporting the same idea, but I currently don't have his text, even in translation.

This suggests possibilities of fighting for the sexual gratification of the Master of the house and subsequent sexual activities following directly on from the fighting. At an individual, a Master might obtain a gladiator from the local gladiator school or ask his own slaves to fight in gladiatorial style as an entertainment, he might obtain noxii (prisoners) as expendable opposition and - as shown in some of the movies - celebrity gladiators would also fight as entertainment. The sexual morals of Rome varied through the Imperial and Republican epochs and certainly included celebration of the athletic male physique and sexual relations between men.

Many people enjoy writing about the thrust and kill but to me although this is the dramatic and climactic dénoument of the gladiator's life, the surrounding circumstances and lifestyle that support the arena activity are just as much of interest. Killing takes but a moment or two (I am told) but living takes a lifetime.

There are many imagined short - and maybe sweet - descriptions of the final moments of gladiators in the arena but how would one live, endure and survive in a regime inhbited by characters such as manacled Nubians, the surviving and omnipotent (to gladiator slaves) Lanista, and with other gladiators in the barracks. And during the time of three homosexual Roman emperors of the second century AD: Trajan, Hadrian, and Antoninus. Imagine what would be the day to day training, the pleasures, the alliances and the intrigues... the sexual openness between athletes doomed to die; the routine sexual gratification, exploitation and humiliation of the situation where "carpe diem" living for the moment had real meaning but also the opportunities for pleasures and career advancement where great bodies are both valued and routinely trashed.

We know from other man to man combat situations that there is both a harnessing of sexual energy to fuel fight agression (see my pages sports masochist fitness training routines and Gut-punching and boxing - sparring) but this is in tension with a shift in morality that comes from the combat situation (see Press reports of prisoner, interrogation and military recruit abuse),

The immersive experience games that now exist don't have a sexually open glaiator game, not even a gladiator training game, nor is there a even yet a novel or long form gay porn story on this topic... either ancient Roman or science fiction.

That's the imaginative leap I would like someone to take and put forward a complete gladiator lifestyle. Do get in touch if you have information, fantasies or opinions about Roman gladiators, their lives, training and techniques and their training. I'm keen to meet to train and fight.

Roman gladiator fiction

I am also seeking traditional style tuition and correction in Latin, the language of Rome.

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