Friday, March 10, 2006

LIFE AND DEATH IN ROME: Gladiators & Slaves

From the enduring legacy of Spartacus’s mass slave rebellion to the ‘Emperor Gladiator’ Commodus, we follow the lives of a male and female gladiator as they prepare for possibly their final fight, a petty criminal who will be just one of many massacred for lunchtime amusement and a wealthy freedman, the liberated slave who became a successful business man.

The gladiators, captive prisoners of war or criminals, led short brutal lives. Other slaves cooked, cleaned and mined but they were also teachers, doctors and accountants!

Slaves were Rome’s dark underside, the forced labour that oiled the wheels of its prosperity and about a third of the population.

The great games were staged to buy urban stability and popularity from the citizen masses, an occasion for debauchery and bloodletting.

‘Criminals,’ often guilty of the smallest offence, would be executed by crucifixion, burnt alive or if lucky beheaded by a sword. They were often provided for mass slaughter in the arena as a warm up for the games themselves.

The brief, brutal and bloody lives of slaves and gladiators. We reveal what it was really like to be a gladiator and one of the slaves that ran daily life in Rome.


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