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Gladiator Rituals

             Gladiatorial contests hold a central place in our perception of Roman behavior. They were also a big influence on how Romans themselves ordered their lives. Attending the games was one of the practices that went with being a Roman. The Etruscans who introduced this type of contest in the sixth century BC, are credited with its development but it is the Romans who made it famous.(Adapted from Tacitus) A surviving feature of the Roman games was when a gladiator fell he was hauled out of the arena by a slave dressed as the Etruscan death-demon Charun.(Quennell p.44) The slave would carry a hammer which was the demon's attribute. Gladiators of Ancient Rome lived their lives to the absolute fullest. .
             Gladiatorial duels had originated from funeral games given in order to satisfy the dead man's need for blood, and for centuries their principle occasions were funerals. The first gladiatorial combats therefore, took place at the graves of those being honored, but once they became public spectacles they moved into amphitheaters. (Dining p.83) As for the gladiators themselves, an aura of religious sacrifice continued to hang about their combats. Obviously most spectators just enjoyed the massacre without any remorseful reflections. Even ancient writers felt no pity, they were aware that gladiators had originated from these holocausts in honor of the dead.(Adapted from Martial) What was offered to appease the dead was counted as a funeral rite. The ancients thought that by this sort of spectacle they rendered a service to the dead, after they had made it a more cultured form of cruelty. The belief was that the souls of the dead are appeased with human blood, they use to sacrifice captives or slaves of poor quality at funerals. Afterwards it seemed good to obscure their impiety by making it a pleasure. (Hopkins p.170) So after the acquired person had been trained to fight as best they can, their training was to learn to be killed! For such reasons gladiators were sometimes known as bustuarii or funeral men.

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