The Shows in the Coliseum Were Blood Thirst but Noble Contests. To What Extent is this a fair description of Gladiatorial Fights? The Gladiatorial fights were noble in some ways, but in others seem to have the characteristics of the lowest form of entertainment. Gladiators were considered to fight with pride, they honoured their Gods with sacrifices and prayer for victory and they honoured their traditions and heritage, often being armed in weapons and armour, and having fighting styles originating from their country of origin.
For example “the Gaul.” Glory and fame, were just two of the noble characteristics associated with gladiators, and they were dressed in the fashion of a noble soldier, often trained in the same way. They were often given mythological names by their trainer, nothing says nobility more than a mythological hero.Basic tactics and skill are also a very important part of the Gladiatorial fight, again increasing nobility. A gladiatorial fight can certainly be compared to a noble, international fight for the expansion of the Roman Empire. The nobility of the fight can only be increased by the whole context, the religious origin, probably being the origin of the religious ceremonies to mark the commencement of the games. Then the gladiators would salute the sponsor of the game with an extremely brave and courageous statement looking death right in the face.The gladiatorial fights also had strict, formal rules that were enforced, which adds something to the general nobility: e.
g. a lanista would supervise the fight and weapons were submitted for inspection before the fight (those not sharp enough were discarded) As with any supposed sport, Gladiatorial fighting had strict etiquette, for example, a trumpet would be sounded at the end of the fight (when the lanista rushed in with a stick or the loser pleads for mercy by raising his index finger)The successful gladiators were often idolised by youngsters and indeed women, and I suppose ordinary citizens would be able to relate to the struggle of the Gladiator, e.g. a person struggling with the various conflicts and problems in his life.
The fame, together with the luxury the gladiators experienced when not training or fighting adds to the general feeling of nobility. I suppose its this outward nobility, together with the objective of the Gladiatorial fights to reduce aggression within the general public, that made the fights seem morally and ethically acceptable to the Roman masses. Anyway, the Gladiator fights would be held immediately after the midday executions; the Romans would at this point be more interested in skill and prize than blood.I suppose the Gladiatorial fights were somewhat a trademark of the Roman Empire and indeed Roman Civilisation. I expect that this has something to do with the fact that Rome was built upon bloody conquest, and the Gladiatorial fights amplify both bloody conquest and indeed a noble luxurious life. There was also an aim for all Gladiators, that turned savage blood lust entertainment into an acceptable “tournament” of the highest calibre; gladiators could be given the wooden sword, symbolising freedom; the fact that the Gladiators are working for a goal, rather than just killing each other makes it seem more noble.
Any gladiator who got through training has in a way already proved himself as noble and hard working. Slaves who did not want to be gladiators would not complete training and would probably be sent back to whatever other labour he performed before he was picked by a gladiator trainer.Of course on the other hand there were factors that the Romans probably would overlook that made the gladiatorial shows very un-noble. For a start the best gladiators were more than often criminals, and slaves, the very dregs of society.
They had a hard life, with a lot of extremely strenuous training that I suppose can add to the nobility of the fight by making it seem more like a professional sport (I mean to the Romans it was a professional Sport.) However the idea of strenuously rigorously developing skill and self control for the sake of feeding blood thirst seems a bit repulsive and un noble to me.From what I’ve learnt about the Gladiators, it seems to me that often the final result of the game is controlled by factors outside of the actual fight.
. For example, only 10% of fights resulted in fatalities usually because the sponsor let the loser off the hook. The sponsor would have an incentive to be merciful to gladiators because the sponsor had to pay for any “losses” endured during the games, and he would also be influenced by whether or not the crowd wanted mercy (they would wave handkerchiefs around the place if they did.).This and the fact that the crowd would encourage particularly popular gladiators, which would probably lower the morale of the less popular opponent- proves to me that in a sense it is actually the crowd who are controlling the fight not the gladiators themselves. This to me seems slightly degrading for the gladiators; it reminds me of reality television where the audience would ultimately decide who gets “voted off” the show. This takes away the effect of the skill of the gladiator (to an extent) and turns them into a performers into a sort of Punch and Judy like puppet show.On the other hand, this audience participation shows how passionate they felt about the lives of various gladiators, and the .
..lengths, they would go to stop their favourite gladiator die. The theory behind what I have just badly explained is that if the Emperor, saves a gladiator, because of the gladiators popularity, and the fact that the Emperor likes the gladiator- then the gladiator is the highest, most noble type of celebrity- anyone who the emperor thinks is noble enough to be spared must be noble.Gladiatorial shows, were often accompanied by souvenirs and the like, which in my opinion degrades Gladiators from noble sportsmen, to lifeless entertainers. This paired with the fact that they were often hired as entertainment at a dinner party, takes away the nobility.
Also taking away from the nobleness is that there were non-related, less noble activities associated with, and inspired by Gladiatorial fights, gambling and prostitution to name but two. Gladiatorial shows were often considered by the emperor as a political weapon to manipulate the people, which is a shame.To conclude by today’s standards the shows do seem extremely blood thirsty and due to this not noble.
However in Rome, Blood and nobility were not necessarily contradictions, the Gladiatorial shows were certainly not as bloodthirsty as certain other forms of Roman entertainment, e.g. the midday executions. The fights themselves as a formal sport seem quite noble, but when looked at from the perspective of cult entertainment the nobility is lessened. In the gladiator fights the main focus was on skill and not blood.
Although death was of course a possibility, the likelihood is that the majority of the time a good gladiator would live to die another day.