Let the Games Begin: Gladiator Training Gym

Gladiators' brain Exercise
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During the Roman Empire, Gladiatorial combat became increasingly popular as entertainment, reaching a peak in the 2nd and 3rd Century A.D. Especially spectacular was the Secular Games honoring the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of Rome (supposedly) in the year 247, celebrated by the Emperor Phillip 'the Arab' (who is still featured on the currency of Syria) at the Colisseum.

However, as the Empire suffered invasions and financial crisis, the games diminished in stature. Some argue that the Emperor Theodosius ended the games in 388; however, games were still exhibited in the Colisseum after the "Fall" of the Empire by Theodoric, the Gothic king of Italy, acting as representative for the Byzantine Emperor, who still claimed to rule all of the former Roman lands in the West. While the personal combat aspect of the games declined, chariot racing in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, modeled after the Circus Maximus in Rome, continued on until the 10th and 11th Centuries, at least.

There is some controversy over the severity of the combat. The traditional view of scholars was that the grisly fighting continued until the death or severe injury of one of the combatants. Recently, however, scholars have revised their view of single-combat gladiatorial games, placing them more along the lines of a more dangerous version of professional wrestling. Combatants were to engage in dramatic combat with intent to injure, but not kill or mortally wound opponents.

The reason for this is the expense of training, equipping, and promoting each gladiator in a precious metal based monetary economy . A career cut short would constitute a bad investment. Also, each match raised large amounts of money on wagering - follow-up re-matches would raise even more money. Therefore, there was a significant incentive for all owners to amortize their investments, and profits, over a predictable term. So death in the top tier of performers would be a fairly rare event.

These restrictions would not apply for the lowest strata of performance - condemned criminals, prisoners of war, and beasts - who in effect participated in mass public executions couched as entertainment.


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