Morituri te salutamus (We who are about to die salute you)! There has been much argument on whether gladiators, in antiquity, expressed this greeting to Roman emperors before they proceeded in battle. Whether or not this was true does not matter. What does matter, however, is the significance of gladiatorial battles in ancient Rome. Rome fought in numerous battles throughout its history. Would it be ironic for Romans to adopt the gladiatorial games? No, fighting wars and battles was a way of life for Romans. Gladiatorial battles reflected Rome's history, yet even more their awesome strength and power. Accordingly, gladiatorial battles possessed a principal status during the Roman Empire. .
Historians have yet to determine the birth of the munera gladiatoria. Several researchers have formed theories on the origin of the gladiatorial battles. In dealing with Roman history, little discussion focuses on where the combats actually originated, instead more on whether the Romans adopted the games from their Campanian (southern) or Etruscan (northern) neighbors (Futrell). The theory of the Romans adopting the munera gladiatorial from their Etruscan neighbor seems more credible, because of the evidence and information supporting it. For example, although researchers found artistic representations of bloody combat from both Etruria and Campania, the physical remains from Etruria exist earlier by a century or more (Futrell). In addition, "When the surviving written records from the Roman period mention early munera it is given an Etruscan flavor" (Futrell 19). Furthermore, a slain gladiator was taken out of the arena by a man dressed as the Etruscan death-demon Charun (Grant). Also, the Romans imported the ideas of the afterlife from Etruria (Grant). Finally, " the etymological dictionary compiled by Isidore of Seville in the early seventh century AD ascribed an Etruscan origin to the Latin word for a trainer of gladiators, lanista- (Wiedemann 30).