Blood Sport: Intriguing Facts about Ancient Roman Gladiators

Roman gladiators are among the most legendary fighters in history. These ancient warriors will forever be known for their great courage. Here are some intriguing facts you may not know.

Well Fed
Like many of today’s elite athletes, Roman gladiators typically maintained a balanced diet. According to research, they were mostly vegetarians. Some of the most common foods eaten include barley, wheat, and beams. The ultimate goal was to enhance strength and energy.

Woman Also Participated in the Fighting
Contrary to popular belief, gladiator fighting wasn’t just a male-only event. To boost interest in the sport, a female gladiator class called the Amazones was introduced. It seems these lady warriors fought mostly for an opportunity to settle debts and fame.

Most Were Slaves
While some free men chose to be gladiators, most were forced to do so. They were mainly prisoners of war who displayed great strength and endurance. Instead of doing hard labor, these captives were chosen to entertain crowds for profit. Because slaves were held in such low regard, it wasn’t uncommon for them to fight to a bloody death in the early days. When on the verge of losing a fight, a gladiator could save their life by surrendering and begging for mercy.

All Fights Were Not Fair
Unfortunately, not every gladiator received a fair shot. For example, a competitor may have been given a less formidable weapon based upon their race. Criminals often were forced to go without any protection.

Rewarded for Victories
Although the thought of competing as a gladiator may seem horrifying, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Winners often received a bag of money afterward. Some gladiators even became sex symbols.