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Template:Talk gladiators

Former featured article candidateGladiator is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
January 31, 2007Featured article candidateNot promoted
Gladiators in a 2nd-century floor mosaic at Zliten on the Libyan coast
Execution and hunting vignettes from the arena in a 2nd-century floor mosaic at Zliten



Here's an article on Gladiators from "A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities", John Murray, London, 1875. Someone might want to integrate this with the main text. (It is at:
[1] (copy up to "html") - copyright status seems to need better investigation (see related policy)).--Imran 16:44 Jul 21, 2002 (PDT)

I think the Gladiators are cool but the fight to the death! Helenagriffing (talk) 16:57, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Dodgy definition[edit]

The definition from the article

A Gladiator is a low-class infantry idiot, whos country got specifically selected for highly risky operations or combats.

seems to be highly non-standard. Every other source I consulted, including the text above, defines gladiators as Roman entertainment fighters. I will change the article correspondingly. AxelBoldt 23:06 Dec 19, 2002 (UTC)

Thumbs up or down?[edit]

I have a question about the thumbs up/down bit...

"If the audience (or sponsor or emperor) wanted that the loser should be killed, they pointed their thumbs downwards. If they wanted him to live, they raised their fist but kept their thumb inside it (ie. they did not point upwards as commonly believed)."
I have also heard (from various teachers and profs, and various books) that they used the thumbs up/down the same way we do, or they used it the opposite way, or no one knows which was which. I have even had two classics profs at UWO give two different explanations (the latter two I listed). Is there actually any consensus? Adam Bishop 13:46, 5 Aug 2003 (UTC)
Roman writers described the gesture as "Pollice verso", literally "turned thumb". But no-one really knows whether this was up, down, or neither. Matthewmayer
I've removed the current reference to it, since the grammar and spelling shown was terrible, and we have no guarantee that the thumb was turned one way or another. Perhaps that should be added in the previous bit of info's stead. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 07:38, 25 February 2007 (UTC).
Actually, thumbs down was never used at all in roman life, never mind the arena. To signal a death the ruler would present a thumbs up. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 14:56, 12 April 2007 (UTC).
Thumbs down was used because i said so and my great great great great great great great great great grandfather lived in rome —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hihihow (talkcontribs) 04:34, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

I seem to recall that the death sign was a sideways Phumb, sometimes drwn horizontal, to signify slitting a throat, and I do also seem to remember reading somewhere that the thumb being kept in the fist was the sign for mercy. Man, this article does need some research and citing. Maybe if I can find the time, I'll do some hunting..... Mcfinn76 (talk) 13:32, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Everything in the article currently unreferenced is actually referenced in the "References" and "Further Reading" sections. When I did the first rewrite I was a new editor and did not know how to do multiple cites from the same reference so left a lot of refs out. I just need to find time to assign them. Wayne (talk) 15:15, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Reliable info about thumbs issue and other things[edit]

Please check out She also has an interesting contribution on the meaning of "pollice verso".

In addition, you may want to check out at least some of the literature on this syllabus: For a start, I'd recommend esp. the book by Eckart Köhne & Cornelia Ewigleben, Gladiators and Caesars, Univ. of California Press 2000, because it makes the research of German experimental archaeologist Marcus Junkelmann on gladiators accessible to English-speaking readers and has great illustrations, and the articles by Hopkins and Coleman, all standards.

In its current form, as you will see when you read these texts, the article contains a lot of misinformation. For example, gladiators, at least in the proper technical use of the term, did not fight against wild animals - this was the job of the bestiarii. Gerome's picture reflects the stand of the historical research of his time, but there are numerous mistakes on it. For example, the combination of armour the gladiator in the center wears is not authentic, as Junkelmann discusses in his recent book, "Hollywoods Traum von Rom." Xiphophilos 07:32, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

I've heard that thumbs-up/down was not the only way the fate of the loser was determined. If the crowd waved handkerchiefs, the loser would be spared. -Artemis/Apollo collaberation on Feb. 19, 2007

Actually, the emperor signalled for a death by using the "thumbs-up" signal, the thunbs down was never used in the arena or in any roman life.

I've heard the thumbs up was for death (it represented a drawn sword), and thumbs in fists was for life (a sword in it's sheeth) — Preceding unsigned comment added by FatFee (talkcontribs) 22:58, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

Disambiguation of Seneca[edit]

I've pointed the reference to Seneca to Seneca the Younger, as it seems to be the most likely source. However, I have no particular knowledge here, and it could be a reference to Seneca the Elder. Please, if someone knows for sure, say so here, and correct the article if necessary. -Anthropos 14:01, 31 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Odd looking sentence[edit]

What does this line mean ? "There was even a belief that nine eaten gladiator livers were a cure for epilepsy." Eaten by who ? Jay 08:10, 10 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I did my senior resarch paper on the gladiators of rome. I've added some interesting things to this article.

Thanks...but don't delete other comments on the talk page :) Adam Bishop 16:21, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I don't think it matters who (or what) ate it — Preceding unsigned comment added by Paastie (talkcontribs) 23:43, 29 August 2012 (UTC)


Apol0gies, why did you add a cleanup tag to this article? What needs to be cleaned up? Adam Bishop 22:09, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I would hazard a guess as the dead bodys/body parts of those gladiators who couldnt, excuse the terrible pun, hack it.

The gladius[edit]

The gladiator article states that the weapon called "gladius" was used by "some" gladiators, and that the weapon inspired the name of the fighter (...makes sense). The gladius article states that "[c]ontrary to common belief, the gladius was not used by gladiators, who used a version with a shorter blade". Could this please be clarified and fixed? Also, does this shorter weapon have a name, and if the gladius was not used by the gladiators, how did one name inspire the other? Thanks. --Liberlogos 22:28, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

History Section[edit]

, with the intention of keeping alive his memory” (Baker, Gladiator 10). These were held for notable people and were repeated every one to five years after the person’s death. I noticed that the history section starts out in the middle of a sentence, and I can't tell what you were trying to say. I looked at the edit history but still couldn't figure out what had been changed...I just thought that I ought to bring this to someone's attention.--Lara (-- 04:23, 8 June 2006 (UTC))

Fixed it, I think. Thanks! Adam Bishop 04:52, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

I may very well be mistaken, and can't check sources till I go to my storage unit to check a couple Roman history books, but I seem to recall that the funeral games origin was Etruscan. Can anyone cite the info in the Origins section? There are a couple other things that didn't mesh quite perfectly w/ my memory. Again, this could just be the blurred memory of an old man, but again, I'd love to see some citations there..... Mcfinn76 (talk) 13:28, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Current consensus among historians is that there is likely no connection between the games and the Etruscans. The ONLY source of the claim was written almost 500 years after the events it describes and 300 years after the combats began in the Roman empire. There is no archaelogical evidence the Etruscans had Gladiatorial combats. Campanian art from the 4th century BC on the other hand does show such combats. Wayne (talk) 15:35, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Vandalism target[edit]

Reverting vandal attacks[edit]

For some reason this article seems to attract schoolboy vandals like horse droppings attracts flies. Please look to history before reverting as multiple attacks may have occurred and a simple revert via pop-ups will not restore the page.

Ask me how I know. --DV8 2XL 12:51, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Fixed some vandalism I noticed. 18:29, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Incessant vandalism[edit]

Have there been any useful edits on this article in the last 6 months? This article seems to attract anonymous vandals several times a day. Is there some level of protection we should or could do for this? Just wondrin' Mlouns 23:51, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Yeah but process-wonks love to come by and unprotect things after a few days, so it never makes any difference. Adam Bishop 19:23, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Looks like Vandalism[edit]

Under section on Schools and training, there's the phrase " "fag targeteers" from "armoured heavies" " which looks like vandalism, but not sure what should be there. (talk) 12:31, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Resolved through discussion, verbatim from source text. (talk) 13:31, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Addition for consideration[edit]

the following information are taken from a talk from David Potter on the gladiators, and may possibly be verified by information online and in publication.

On Referees:

One commonly overlooked part of gladiatorial combat was the existence of the referee: Gladiatorial combat after all, was an athletic sport. Gladiators as a rule fought in pairs, and the referee's purpose was simply to keep the gladiators from inflicting permanent/fatal damage on their opponent. Often matches were halted after first blood.

On weaponry:

Armor placement was designed to direct most of the blows towards non-lethal areas of the body. The raising of fingers that signified a gladiator's concession to defeat was almost identical to the signal greek wrestlers used for the same purpose. Weapons were blunted, and sharp weapons had to be secured by the express permission of the host.

Possible Citations: 02:39, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

I have rounded up a lot of sources (mainly Universities and archaelogical) that have a LOT of information not mentioned in the article that are notable enough to include. For example.. yes there was a referee but he also had an assistant to help make decisions. After a Gladiator was killed two people dressed as Charon and Mercury removed the body from the arena, Mercury carried a red hot poker disguised as a wand and prodded the body to make sure it was dead while Charon carried a hammer to use if it wasn't. Forensic examinations of remains show Gladiators fought barefoot and most interestingly, instead of being the buff atheletes with 6 packs we see in movies, showed that as a rule they were overweight. Scientists think they deliberately put on fat as protection against blows. Similar forensics also show there were three specific parts of the body that were regularly targetted, knees, head and believe it or not...the armpit. I'm looking at doing a few edits but want to make sure I have multiple RS for each one before i do. Wayne 19:13, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

What type of sheltering did they have?[edit]

Where were the Gladiator's "living quarters" as it were.

I have a source that has a picture of the remains of a Gladiator school and living quarters. I'll see if I can include some sort of description later. Wayne 19:13, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Added a picture of a model of the main school in Rome I found in commons. Wayne (talk) 14:04, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Acta diurna[edit]

"Julius Caesar in 59 BC started a daily newspaper called the Acta Diurna (daily acts) specialising in gladiator news." I have heard many opinions of exactly what acta diurna was, some saying it was more of a public protocol than a newspaper. However that it specialiced in gladitorial news is completely new to me. We need a source to this. -Sensemaker

Specialising may be too strong a word so i'll change it. When it first appeared it was for senate debates (acta senatus) and Caesar probably intended it as propaganda as he used it to announce the good things he did as well. Cicero complained it had too many reports of the gladiatorial matches. The Acta then became mostly entertainment (acta diurna) so it follows the games would be an important part. The Britannica says it was primarily Gladiator news. The Scriptores Historiae Augustae say that they included everything typical of a gladiator and it's probable the content varied over the years depending on the "audience", in Caligula's time for example it specialised in debauchery. I made a lot of edits over the last few weeks and everything is referenced, the problem is that I dont know how to link the same reference for multiple edits in different sections but you'll find everything in the references and notes. Wayne 17:12, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
Reworded acta diurna. BTW. I've added over 5,000 words to the article (over ½ of total article size?). I've added as much info as i could find multiple references for, but possibly I have gone into too much detail? It now needs to be cleaned up by maybe moving some sentences to different sections or rewording to improve flow etc etc. Anyone can feel free to help out on this as I think we now have the base for a good informative article. Wayne 17:34, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
That seems like good sources to me. Thank you, Wayne. -Sensemaker

Pop culture section[edit]

What are people's feelings on deleting this article's Pop Culture section? They tend to get loaded up with every single mention in any movie or video game, no matter how trivial. I'm for deleting it all unless there is an outcry. Mlouns 16:16, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

Last call... This section may get deleted very soon if there are no objections. Mlouns 01:44, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
I suggest keeping "Novels, films and television" as these are notable and deleting the rest. Put in a paragraph mentioning that Gladiators are a popular theme often used in other areas to cover everything deleted and to let editors know that we only want somewhat historically accurate representations in the pop culture section. Wayne 05:38, 13 November 2007 (UTC)


I have seen mosaics of fights with the Ø symbol, but there are also symbols that remind me of a heart (). Could it be the v of victor or is it another thing? --Error (talk) 03:58, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

The decline of Gladiators[edit]

a CHILDRENS book I read by minna Lacey and Susanna Davidson - "Gladiators" Usborne young reading -2006 from UK apparently from backpage - there is a monk named Telemachus - he steeped into the colesseum in Rome in 404 AD - he was against the gladitorial games and tried to break up the fight between two gladiators and was stoned to death by the audience - I'd like that added to the gladiator article under the decline section - think it's appropriate . —Preceding unsigned comment added by Aborantractus (talkcontribs) 09:49, 31 December 2007 (UTC) kuk är en speciel sak som man knullar med —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:33, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

Featured Article[edit]

Above it suggested we look at the German FA version to see how we can improve this one. I read it and this one is better!!!! LMAO. The German version has a lot fewer references and has copied some of it's content from this one (going by how it is worded). I also checked on why this one failed the last nomination and think we have addressed almost all of the complaints. I'm working on this again now after a break and I think we are almost there. Just needs some grammar and layout cleanup and I want to perhaps make a few more sections (move current material around rather than add more). Wayne (talk) 16:47, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

I've started to work on things. You need to bear with me a little if things look a bit odd or out of place as I will do a bit each day and will properly line up pics etc once finished. Wayne (talk) 18:51, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
I notice some fact tags have been added. Just so editors know. Virtually everything on the page is covered by the existing references however I need to learn how to do multiple cites from the same source. Once i'm happy with the page layout I'll learn to do this and add a cite to everything that requires it. If you have a new source that covers a fact then add it. The rest I'll do at a future date. Wayne (talk) 14:01, 6 January 2008 (UTC)


Just a heads up to those who watch this article: I've placed retiarius at peer review here. Any comments are welcome; I intend to apply for Featured Article status in the not-too-distant future. Thanks, — Dulcem (talk) 05:39, 10 March 2008 (UTC)


Does anyone have a reference for the assertions about the use of "hoc habet" (or similar) in the Typical Combat section? I can't find any authority for it (i.e. while the phrase clearly existed, there doesn't seem to be any authority for the fact that it was shouted by the crowd)?

The ref is in the external links. When I get time I will go through all the links to link them to specific article claims where needed. Wayne (talk) 07:47, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

did you know...[edit]

thaaaat... in pompeii diggers found grafitti on a wall of a house which basically said a certain gladiator "steals the girls hearts"? thats like people today writing "beckham is cool" on a wall! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Personperson5346 (talkcontribs) 21:37, 12 May 2008 (UTC) A Gladiator is a Roman. OMG i didt know that!!!

"Gladiator" is not a Proper Noun[edit]

I have just gone through the entire article correcting "gladiator" and, even worse, "gladiatorial" to lower case except where it begins a sentence or is part of a book or article title. The nominal and adjectival form are not proper nouns but common ones and thus should not be capitalised as if they were, say, a sports team or a religious cult.Janko (talk) 16:12, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Mixed-Martial Arts (MMA) Link[edit]

== Does anyone believe we should include a section on the association of current MMA as a 21st Century version of gladiators? <small>—Preceding [[Wikipedia:Signatures|unsigned]] comment added by [[Special:Contributions/|]] ([[User talk:|talk]]) 18:07, 26 July 2008 (UTC)</small><!-- Template:UnsignedIP --> <!--Autosigned by SineBot--> :No; they are nothing like gladiators. I believe it is mentioned in the [[pankration]] article though. [[User:Adam Bishop|Adam Bishop]] ([[User talk:Adam Bishop|talk]]) 13:30, 27 July 2008 (UTC) ==

They are within the current laws.MMA fighter prepare for fights with eight week fight preps good food and training the way a gladiator would.Although it is diluted in comparison to MMA.Gladiatorial combat is a fight to the death. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.182.208[ mma glasgow].85 (talk) 13:58, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Life expectancy: a non-sequitur[edit]

The current text has it that

"Gladiators rarely lived past age 30 unless they were particularly outstanding and accomplished victors but at a time when around 50 percent of Roman citizens died, from all causes, before age 25[12] this indicates that gladiators in fact tended to live longer than the general populace which is attributed to the extra care they received."

This is a non-sequitur. The average life expectancy of citizens includes infant mortality. But people did not become gladiators until they had already survived their infancy. So gladiators could very well have had a higher death rate than common citizens at all ages, and a lower life expectancy at the age of, say, fifteen.

Agemegos (talk) 23:27, 11 September 2008 (UTC) gladiators are da bomb from matt simpers —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:33, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree with Agemegos. In Old Age in Ancient Rome Karen Cokayne writes that "according to modern demographers, the average life-expectancy in Rome was around the age of 25. This figure is, however, very misleading, mainly because of a very high rate of infant and child mortality. It is estimated that as many as 50% of children may have died before the age of ten. Life expectancy increased dramatically for those who survived the early danger years and the total span of life appears to have been not significantly different than today.". L'omo del batocio (talk) 12:59, 12 October 2008 (UTC)


Article needs it badly -- repetitions, spelling, usage. Don't have time at the moment; perhaps someone will jump in before I get the chance? DavidOaks (talk) 03:14, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Have contacted later contributors to notify intended copyedit.Haploidavey (talk) 23:12, 11 February 2009 (UTC). I plan to tighten up the text tomorrow (12 Feb) by removing any redundant or reduplicative phrasing.--Haploidavey (talk) 00:53, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Copyedit rationale[edit]

The article contains a lot of useful information but some is dispersed in scatter-gun fashion throughout. It has acquired a lot of material and now lacks shape and direction. This is essentially a history article. It's essential for material management and clarity that a chronology is adhered to, with dates when possible, or otherwise, a historical marker of some kind. (I've done what I can, but absence of citations and clear attribution is a very real problem).

To this end, I'll begin at the beginning & simplify the contents box thus:

origin - development - peak - decline.

The topic being Gladiators, the focus should be on Gladiators, and in any category heading or subheading, this should be self-evident. At the moment, it's not: for instance, the material on amphitheatres, while interesting and in someways essential, isn't obviously secondary and supportive to the article's core topic.

I find a bit of difficulty here - it may seem absurd to attempt an article on Gladiators without discussion of the games and arenas, but I believe the attempt to combine all this in one article makes it very unwieldy. IMO clarity and readability may be better served by brief summary on secondary topics in the text, with links offered to other wiki articles, which of course will have have their own references, cross-references and external links. For now, I'll leave these details unedited apart from tightening language/grammar/style - which could take me some time, so please - if you've an interest here - be patient!

Does anyone have a strong opinion on any/all of this? Haploidavey (talk) 23:44, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Actually, copy edit for some of this is pretty much impossible regarding substance and content, as without proper citations and refs I can't check - in some cases - what is meant. In some of what's been written, it's simply impossible to distingish fact from interpretation.Haploidavey (talk) 01:06, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

proposed reference list[edit]

As no-one's objected, proposed list now pasted to article.Haploidavey (talk) 15:06, 24 February 2009 (UTC)


Larinum decree: (Trans; Potter, D) [2]

Referee's social status: (Trans; Potter) [3]

Terence; 2nd prologue, Hecyra, 259-60 (trans, Riley): project Guttenberg [4]

Acta Diurna ref: [5] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Adamdaley (talkcontribs) 22:43, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

New references[edit]

Some current article references inappropriate (some of the external links in Notes connect to 2nd or 3rd hand non-scholarly web-page summaries/recycled stuff: some unnecessary, some dead links, one is in Latin. Will be pasting new refs above but omitting text links until text more coherent and historically themed.Haploidavey (talk) 22:30, 16 February 2009 (UTC).

Have removed links which do not contain substantial or referenced statements, and one link in original Latin. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Adamdaley (talkcontribs) 22:43, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

Sections to review[edit]

Need to loose bulk of sections already adequately covered in other wiki articles, such as women Gladiators and gladiator types. Links could serve for some of this material.

I don't think the Misconception heading should be there. Information should be given as a positive - let's say whatPollice verso was. We don't need to say what it was not. Most of the information can be embedded (again, as information that has intrinsic value, not simply an overt corrective to misinformation) under various existing headings. Likewise with statements of strong or controversial POV - such as Christian or anti-Christian propaganda; allow Tertullian to speak for himself, if it's relevant to the article (which it is) but cite NPOV historian or statistic to provide counter-balance. Haploidavey (talk) 00:37, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Headings and subcategory[edit]

Need changing. Proposed heading changes are: origins - development - peak - decline. Gladiator types, names only (linked to wiki list). Matches. Gladiator culture. Amphitheatres. Roman attitudes & values re: gladiators in Roman Culture. Brief summary on modern attitudes, films etc. Haploidavey (talk) 22:30, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Headings changed, some material re-categorised. Going to see if I can get some hefty reading done at dear old Manchester Library over the next few days to get the refs sorted out. Will retain what I can, if other refs I can find turn out tosupport it, but otherwise unreferenced entries/info by past editors is just going to have to go. Haploidavey (talk) 02:08, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

slave or volunteer?[edit]

Most serious historians I'm reading suggest that far too much has been made of the few recorded instances of volunteer (basically free or contracted) gladiators in the literature. There's a lot on the web (and elsewhere) in which gladiator context, ethos and attitude amounts to wishful thinking, resulting in reconstructive and idealised POV narrative history. Most gladiators were originaly slaves, and remained so. "Professional" has a modern meaning which can be (and in this case, is)misleading. Am changing text accordingly, but as respectfully as possible.Haploidavey (talk) 15:55, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Slaves is probably the wrong word as Roman law barred slaves from being gladiators unless they comitted a crime and, as Roman law also required the execution of slaves for serious crimes, slaves as gladiators could not have been as common as is believed. A great many gladiators were captured rebels, soldiers and other prisoners such as criminals. I think "the few recorded instances of volunteer gladiators in the literature" refers mainly to high ranking volunteers. There are sources that say half of the gladiators were volunteers at one period of time. Wayne (talk) 16:35, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
I was hoping you'd show up! That makes more sense in terms of my recent readings (viz: slaves acquired as or captives in early days and later, the use of noxii vs gladiators etc in middle to late. I'll give a chronological account, which should avoid the danger of unsound or anachronistic generalisations. Thanks for that. Haploidavey (talk) 22:08, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
Roman society is one of my pet hobbies so I'm more into the contemporary accounts than the popular media viewpoint. I'm busy with several projects atm but will try to spend more time here soon. Some type of chronology is a good idea, probably the different periods rather than specific dates, keep up the good work as it would be nice to get this to a high standard. Wayne (talk) 10:58, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Status is extremely complex, both in Roman law as written (and never rescinded) and socially (life not legal in all things, but life as she is lived). Need to do substantial re-writing of relevant sections and eliminate some non-factual, re-interpretive factoids which conflict with evidence, or for which no evidence has been offered. Everything in this article should be based on evidence, and be cited by a reliable informed source who's prepared to give their evidence in turn, not as generalisation but with text-linked and enumerated refs. That's how it works.Haploidavey (talk) 00:11, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

Need a source for the statement that Valentinian I exempted Christians from arena in 367. The only source I can find is Catholic Encyclopedia, which refers to Ammanius, who gives no dates and says V. exempted christians from fighting as (ie being condemned to be) gladiators. I don't particularly want to cite Ammanius... Any help out there?Haploidavey (talk) 15:08, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

"true" , "real" etc gladiator[edit]

as opposed to not real, not true etc. I find nothing in the literature to support the idea that a "real" gladiator was'nt (and couldn't be) involved as a venatione, and nothing that says they did (or didn't) act as executioners of noxii.

I also have found nothing to support the idea of "free" volunteer (yet somehow professional) gladiators in later periods travelling around individually or in bands, and hiring themselves out. This appears to contradict what I've found so far in refs. Anyone help?

The typical combat section is partially based on re-construction. Nothing wrong with that, as long as it's clearly identified as such, and has rigorous support. Any offers? Haploidavey (talk) 15:08, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

planned cut[edit]

Julius Caesar in 59 BC started a daily newspaper called the Acta Diurna (daily acts) that reported gladiator news. It carried news of gladiatorial contests, games, astrological omens, notable marriages, births and deaths, public appointments, and trials and executions. The Acta's content varied over time depending on the Emperor's whims and the tastes of the public.

comment: this misrepresents the Acta. Will re-write & shorten; for the most part, a link will suffice (see links above).Haploidavey (talk) 19:35, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

more planned cuts[edit]

I strongly feel there's no point in duplication between wiki articles. I'm taking out most references to gladiator-type based examples in "combat": as a lot of the text is value laden.Haploidavey (talk) 20:04, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

"Music was played during matches. Typical instruments were a long straight trumpet (tubicen), a large curved instrument (Cornu) similar to an exaggerated French horn and a water organ (hydraulis). The Romans loved burlesque and pantomime and these musicians were often dressed as animals with names such as "flute playing bear" (Ursus tibicen) and "horn-blowing chicken" (Pullus cornicen), names sometimes found displayed on contemporary mosaics.[citation needed]"
Unless there is epigraphic or pictorial evidence for this as general practise, it should be omitted. Where does the "often" come from? I suspect there may be a few generalisations here from specific incidents, or from a number of mosaics, or from who-knows-where. I've cut the part regarding tempo of music, partly because it's uncited but mostly because the modern parallel offered (film music)is inappropriate. Haploidavey (talk) 20:31, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
There is a source for this here which also has pictures of the mosaics. The "often" is refering to their use in the warmup bouts before the main combats. The "tempo" part can be cited as well. Wayne (talk) 00:52, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
OK, but text doesn't carry notes or footnotes, the allowed sample doesn't offer the author references, and blanks the page it's probably on. Do you have a copy? If so, could you give page number for the extract? Even so, it would be far from ideal.CheersHaploidavey (talk) 03:07, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
Have found a source for the musicians, in the Zilten Mosaic (cited in Weidemann 1993 p15-16, among others) of which there are many web images but this is ca80-100 CE (and provincial), which should be made clear. One can say "it is very likely that music was played at gladiator games etc" on this basis, but surely no more than that.Haploidavey (talk) 13:39, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
Does anyone know where this comes from? If not, it'll have to stay out.
As with modern sports, spectators liked to support “sides” (factiones) which they called the “great shields” (scutarii) and the “little shields” (parmularii). The “great shields” were lightly armoured defensive fighters, whereas the “little shields” were the more aggressive heavily armoured fighter types. Fighting without a shield would have been classed as a “great shield” due to fighting style[citation needed]. “Little shields” always had an advantage early in a match (as attested by the odds given by contemporary Bookmakers) but the longer the match lasted the greater the advantage for the “great shield” as his opponent tired much more quickly due to heavier armour, and also as they usually had helmets with more restricted vision

Haploidavey (talk) 00:36, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

The source for this is here and here. I know they are not in English but I have seen it in English, I just need to remember where although i think it is in one of the links in the further reading section. Wayne (talk) 01:11, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
Here's a source in English although it doesn't give it's own sources and does not include the Latin names. Wayne (talk) 01:37, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, Wayne. Again,lack of citation and references is a problem as far as I can see. is not a bad site, but it's not a scholarly enough source for an encyclopedia article because it's not verifiable.Haploidavey (talk) 03:07, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
just to clarify that last remark, the contributors to are more interested in re-enactment than accurate and justified historical statements. Their articles tend to clump specifics (sometimes minor specifics for which only one or two instances can be found) into generalisations. It's not a rigorous historical method.Regards.Haploidavey (talk) 03:20, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
Found citations at last. Samnite type becomes secutor (oblong or "large" shield) whose supporters are secutarii or secutoriani. Thraex and Murmillo are parmularii (small shield). Citations in Futrell 2006 105, Kyle 1998 111, with examples in Martial, epi 14,213; Caligula (life- suet?)Haploidavey (talk) 02:37, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
Am therefore re-instating gist of disputed section on "big and little shield factions" with ref and cite support. Haploidavey (talk) 15:19, 26 February 2009 (UTC) & Haploidavey (talk) 15:21, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Zilten mosaic[edit]

I see we've three images relating to gladiators (two on this page). Are we able to collect a copyright-free image of the section showing musicians? It would be very useful.Haploidavey (talk) 15:16, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

have made minor correction to the above.Haploidavey (talk) 19:49, 25 February 2009 (UTC)


The excellent Thayer has transcribed (with some notes) Smith's 1885 dictionary entry on Gladiators: [6]

Thayer also recommends Barbara Mcmanus' site - (he says it's better than his offering, and up to date): [7] Haploidavey (talk) 15:05, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Barbara Mcmanus' site doesn't link text entries to notes but has a comprehensive reference list and carries links to some useful (peer-reviewed and reliable) web sites: VROMA [8] carries relevant images. If used,please acknowledge. Haploidavey (talk) 15:12, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Removed raw text on factiones as now pasted into article.Haploidavey (talk) 00:48, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

This sentence: "Gladiators were always armed and armoured in the manner of the enemies of Rome - never as Romans" could be misleading. Velites were based on the early Republican army units of the same name and Provocatores were, until the later Imperial period, armed and armoured with equipment very similar to that of legionaries although they would probably not have been seen as representing such. Wayne (talk) 06:30, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
My reply got lost in the ether. Yes, "never as Romans" is wrong, and should be removed. The entire sentence needs revising. Haploidavey (talk) 13:56, 27 February 2009 (UTC). Haploidavey (talk) 14:11, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
Have changed accordingly. Btw, I noticed the linked Female Gladiator is pretty thin and lacks refs and cites. I thought it might be best if most of that topic here was split and transferred there. Of course, that will mean yet another copy-edit for that page. Any thoughts? Haploidavey (talk) 14:41, 27 February 2009 (UTC)David Galbraith
Female gladiator material now moved to linked article. Haploidavey (talk) 17:33, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Going to London for a week, and should be able to gather scholarly citation at British Library for all remaining uncited material, with dating and context to avoid anachronistic generalisations in article. Will post on return. Cheers. Haploidavey (talk) 22:11, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

RomansARE!!! Gladiators but strong ones hope you enjoy this info> :)

further copyedit log[edit]

Am rewriting remainder with reference to listed works, and taking a cautious and chronological rather than re-constructive or generalised approach to material. It may be dry and over-lengthy, but will be evidenced.Haploidavey (talk) 17:33, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

New sub-section proposal[edit]

With all this material, the section on combat's going to be very long - it's already getting difficult to read. Suggestion: new subheading "Death", under "combat", as we've an awful lot of interesting stuff on that topic in other sections. Besides, almost all the personal details of gladiators come from their grave markers etc. I'll go ahead anyway for now. If there are objections we can discuss here. Haploidavey (talk) 22:59, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

proposed merge of "Emperors as gladiators" into "Gladiator"[edit]

Which speaks for itself. Opinions? Haploidavey (talk) 17:18, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

article length[edit]

is considerably over the guidelines, but would be very difficult to split. Any suggestions? Haploidavey (talk) 17:20, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

picture caption error; help sought[edit]

The first picture in the article shows a section of the Zilten mosaic, containing 5 gladiators and a referee. The caption incorrectly describes 6 gladiators; a caption should support what the picture shows. I can't vouch for the gladiator types shown - assuming they're clear enough to be described as types; this needs the help of someone who can also give their sources. Anyone? Haploidavey (talk) 14:11, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Heading error (haha!) corrected. Haploidavey (talk) 14:13, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Picture caption changed to reflect content. Haploidavey (talk) 19:58, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

removal of generalised and uncited information[edit]

The article mentions losers, winners and the dead leaving through dedicated and named portals of amphitheatres. This is a generalised statement based on very little evidence. The doors are named very rarely; as far as I can tell, one of these is mentioned in a single source. The other is mentioned in a different source, and neither source mentions the other. While Meyer (and others) suggest a diametric relation of one door to its presumed symbolic opposite, it ain't enough to generalise. Welch never mentions it. So I'm taking it out. Haploidavey (talk) 21:54, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Libitina, the couch, Libitinarian Gate and hooks are OK though. Haploidavey (talk) 00:34, 27 March 2009 (UTC) My typo and garble fixed.

Readable Prose estimate[edit]

Currently 57 kilobytes. Long, but perhaps OK. The problem is the footnotes, which are gigantic. Haploidavey (talk) 00:56, 27 March 2009 (UTC)


Needs rewriting. Haploidavey (talk) 16:51, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Rewritten. I've had enough of this article. Haploidavey (talk) 23:56, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

And another re-write. Haploidavey (talk) 12:45, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

removing some inline citations[edit]

Horrible clusters of inline refs. Will retain the essentials, esp. where footnotes count towards substance. I put them there anyways, so why am I asking?? Haploidavey (talk) 02:22, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

latest copy-edits[edit]

Hi Lucretius! Your recent copy-edit re: tribunes and plebs slightly but significantly changes the underlying sense. The source describes the client relationships between plebs and their tribunes. Early Politicians needed to directly court the tribunes of the plebs, rather than the plebs themselves. It's clientage all the way down. Or up. Your other edits seem fine to me. Haploidavey (talk) 23:14, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

That's OK - sometimes rephrasing involves identifying priorities and I thought the specific meaning you were aiming at there didn't really contribute much to the article but merely disturbed the flow. One criticism - you tend to overuse the comma, particularly to denote a rhetorical pause, when the pause should be determined instead by the literal meaning. Congratulations on a well-researched article. I can identify with some of your angst - it's an itch to do better and sometimes we scratch a little too hard. Lucretius (talk) 23:38, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
Point taken on the rhetorical pause. A long-standing habit! Like scratching and angst... Haploidavey (talk) 10:18, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Just had a read-through of your edits. You're doing a great job! Haploidavey (talk) 20:55, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

queried ref[edit]

Codex Theodosianus - possibly, though the source gave as previous: Constantine/Theodosius. I did wonder, and the source may have been in error. If it was an overlap, it would of course be carried forwards into the codex T. Haploidavey (talk) 03:32, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

I am curious as to what Constantine/Theodosius could refer to, if it's not merely a slip of the pen. It could be rescripts in the Codex Theodosianus signed by Constantine, or it could be some publication that contains both emperors in the title (Provincial Government Between Constantine and Theodosius, or whatever). It would be helpful, in any case, to see what the C.Th actually says at 9.40.8 and 15.9.1, to make sure I didn't make the switch in error. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 03:52, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
I do not speak Latin, so I do not understand what follows (via this site):


Idem aa. ad Symmachum praefectum Urbi. Quicumque christianus sit in quolibet crimine deprehensus, ludo non adiudicetur. Quod si quisquam iudicum fecerit, et ipse graviter notabitur et officium eius multae maximae subiacebit. Dat. XVIII kal. feb. Valentiniano et Valente aa. conss. (365 ian. 15).


Imppp. Valentinianus, Theodosius et Arcadius aaa. ad senatum. Nulli privatorum liceat holosericam vestem sub qualibet editione largiri. Illud etiam constitutione solidamus, ut exceptis consulibus ordinariis nulli prorsus alteri auream sportulam, diptycha ex ebore dandi facultas sit. (384 iul. 25).


Cum publica celebrantur officia, sit sportulis nummus argenteus, alia materia diptychis. Nec maiorem argenteum nummum fas sit expendere, quam qui formari solet, cum argenti libra una in argenteos sexaginta dividitur; minorem dare volentibus non solum liberum, sed etiam honestum esse permittimus. Dat. VIII kal. aug. Heracleae Richomere et Clearcho conss. (384 iul. 25).

Do we have a classicist in the house? Geuiwogbil (Talk) 03:59, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
The first one says Christians who commit a crime should not be sent to the games. The second talks about prohibitions on certain kinds of clothing, and the third is about the proper amount of money that should be spent on public duties. (I'll come up with some better translations later, or actual published translations if I can find them, I'm sure this is online somewhere.) Adam Bishop (talk) 04:21, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, Adam! So they correspond with the statements they're attached to in the article, then: "In 367 CE Valentinian I threatened to fine a judge who sentenced Christians to the arena and in 384, attempted to limit the expenses of munera." Good to know. (I suppose the variance between the reported dates (365 in the text I pasted, and 367 in the article) is simply another case of historians amending the chronology after the fact. "Valentinian was actually in Paris then, so it must have been issued two years later," or something similar.) Are we agreed that we're talking about the Codex Theodosianus now, and not some hypothesized Constantine/Theodosius, and that the original citation was in the wrong?
If correcting the citation proves troublesome (I suppose it is a form of OR, after all), we should find another source that cites the same passage in the Codex, but doesn't make the error of calling it Constantine/Theodosius. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 09:08, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Sorry guys, I really should have responded here. My source was a summary only, and I think there's a transcription error (whose it is I don't know, possibly mine). Regarding dates, I'm no longer sure. I know some of these codices are rescriptive compilations. The reprimand may have been issued on Valentinian's behalf as rescript. Or not. None of which helps, of course, and Adam, any light you could shed on this would be most helpful. You've definitely found the relevant sumptuary laws. Haploidavey (talk) 11:57, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
This is embarrasing. The date error (367) is entirely mine. The source has 365. Mea sloppy culpa. I really shouldn't edit at 4 a.m. My apologies to you both for making more work. Haploidavey (talk) 12:20, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
It's definitely the Codex Theodosianus, that's what's on the website Geuiwogbil linked to, and that is the standard way of referencing its chapters. I don't know what "Constantine/Theodosius" is; maybe your source got it from a book about them and that was his shorthand citation for the title, or maybe he did a global find and replace for the wrong field and it ended up in the final draft (heh! I've done that!), or maybe he didn't know how to read the usual shorthand citation for the Codex...I have no idea really. Adam Bishop (talk) 15:42, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

internal links[edit]

Those to Thracian and Gaulish. The source (Weidemann) indicates "Thracian" (etc) gladiator types, not necessarily ethnicities - though I doubt that V.Max. (Weidemann's source) is unambiguous on the point. Having said all that, I do have reservations linking these to "list of gladiator types", partly because it needs a lot of further editing. Who knows, there may even be articles on these! Haploidavey (talk) 13:53, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

(post-edit: actually, V. Max. doesn't even mention types, so Weidemann must be using additional sources for that - I'll try to sort this one out). Haploidavey (talk) 14:03, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

It looks as if it's been sourced from an online essay - of good quality but not proofed or peer-reviewed. The essay cites Weidemann but also extrapolates from other material - validly imho but it constitutes a form of OR. Weidemann makes what was then a reasonable connection between this display and munera. The essay's assumption of Gladiator types is also reasonable - these were the types extant in the Capuan tradition of the time - but George Ville and Kyle, among others, prove Weidemann's analysis to be flawed. This was not munus. I'll remove the references to gladiator types - which in any event are implicit earlier in the article - then change the text and ref to the more cautious justified interpretation given under "military". Haploidavey (talk) 14:48, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

As it turns out, Wiedemann never said anything of the kind. I'm just going to let this one fall into the well-deserved oblivion of its own deep hole. Haploidavey (talk) 17:50, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Refs check[edit]

In view of the above, I'm going to check all refs. Haploidavey (talk) 18:23, 27 April 2009 (UTC)


Seems inevitable. Barton (The Gladiator and the Monster) has some very interesting speculations but if anyone has or knows of source materials for the subtopic in general, they'd be most welcome. Better still, contributions. I'm rather Gladiator-fatigued. Haploidavey (talk) 23:34, 27 April 2009 (UTC)


The Origins section mentions gladiator schools as ludi and the Development section mentions ludi as state games. What's the deal here? Schools or state games? Or perhaps the meaning changed over time? I have no idea, but think it worth having a look at by someone who does. Thanks! Mkruijff (talk) 09:35, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Having looked at it a few times myself, I can say with some certainty that ludi are both games (formal and informal) and schools (gladiatorial and otherwise). Confirmation here - [9] - and a good opportunity for me to embed that link in the relevant footnote. Regards. Haploidavey (talk) 10:12, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
I think ludi as the public games is always plural. The word for "training school" is ludus, plural ludi, and thus confusing. But when somebody presents games that are equivalent to munus, munera, I'm fairly sure it's always plural. Under "Factions and rivals", therefore, I don't know whether we mean at the training school ("At a Pompeian ludus"), or in the course of the presented entertainments, which should be ludi, and all the syntactic difficulties that will entail. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:47, 22 September 2010 (UTC)Cynwolfe (talk) 15:59, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your productive attentions and corrections here. The Pompeian riot broke out during the games (ludi) held at the public amphitheatre, not at the school (ludus). On Jones and stigma (fascinating topic) I also thought this too complex a matter to raise here. Haploidavey (talk) 16:03, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Where games and schools offer confusion (and I see they still do, elsewhere in the article) we can squirm out of it by using English terms, or we could use munus/munera as a more accurate, less generalised, less ambiguous term than ludi. Haploidavey (talk) 16:47, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

WikiProject Martial Arts rating[edit]

I gave this article an A-class rating in accordance with the WikiProject Martial Arts rating guidelines. It's a well written article that could be FA soon. Anyone who has comments or concerns let me know. Ryt 007 (talk) 15:38, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

Modern legacy topics and content[edit]

I've removed a good-faith addition of a list more suited to the 60's Italian Sword-and-sandal movie genre. The list and its introduction were apparently drawn from that article. I agree we should refer to modern interpretations but please, not in such detail. A very short, generalised summary and appropriate wiki-links would have done the job. We need to deal with Legacies, therefore we need a Legacy header but I see no point in adding one without some cited, explanatory content. That seems very hard to come by. Haploidavey (talk) 11:09, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

No need to add more; this is one of Wiki's most coherent, comprehensive articles on ancient Rome. Perhaps only the articles on individual Roman emperors rivals it, or the articles Roman Republic and Roman Empire.--Pericles of AthensTalk 03:58, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

table of types[edit]

Two comments on the table of gladiator types that recently appeared and disappeared.

  • The source didn't meet the requirements of WP:SOURCES. There is abundant scholarship on this topic published in professional journals and university or other scholarly presses without resorting to a website.
  • I notice that the revert edit summary said we already have a list of gladiator types, but I'm managing not to see this. A pared-down bullet list would be fine and would "pop" in a reader-friendly way, though I myself found the table rather overwhelming in an already massive article. But I'd think that we do need a list of types, and that many people coming to the article will be interested in seeing the fighting styles enumerated. The article may already have TMI, and a section on the types should probably only list the major ones, and maybe spin off a lengthy list like the one given in the table to its own list article (WP:STAND). (Two Gallic types were omitted: the cruppellarius mentioned by Tacitus, Annales 3.43, and the Aeduan andabata, who fought in some kind of helmet that completely blocked his vision, mentioned in a couple of places, including Cicero, Ad familiares 7.10.2 — presumably like Luke in his early Jedi training). Most of the info seemed OK, and wouldn't be hard to verify properly.

Another comment: although it might seem logical to have "Origins" at the beginning, I don't think many people coming to the article will be interested in this. To be blunt. I wonder what harm would be done to describe the gladiators and their training first, and how the games took place (which is what I assume most readers will want to know), and then to move the origins and development section to just before "Gladiators in Roman life," which is what it goes with logically anyway. Just thoughts, but I've wondered this before about the article's structure. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:35, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Oh wait. I just found the existing list article. Perhaps the link to it should be more obvious in the main Gladiator article? With a Main article note at the top of a section? And/or repeated in "See also"? Cynwolfe (talk) 14:37, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't disagree with any of this. The article needs foreground, something immediate. The structure's definitely amiss - sort of bogged down by apertifs en route to the main meal. By which time, indigestion has struck. In a way, I'm too stuck in how it's been for the past 2 years to see an alternative. Working on a section off page at the moment, trying to reduce and sum-up but all deadlocked. Not that I'm begging, but the article would benefit from some sharp and merciless editing. Haploidavey (talk) 15:16, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
OK, I'm going to give it a go. Or I might. To be frank, I'm probably burned out, and need a break. Haploidavey (talk) 15:34, 9 February 2011 (UTC)


in the text the gladiator is named a combatant - well, the definition of a combatant in the wikipedia does not fit this description given here to the gladiators, it does not follow. They might have been martial artists but very rarely a combatants, as they made very poor soldiers.DarioTW (talk) 20:40, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

The combatant article is topically narrow, and focuses only on current legal definitions pertaining to "combatants" and "non-combatants" in modern conflicts. Merriam Webster's rather brief entry has the much broader definition of "one that is engaged in or ready to engage in combat", linking to "combat (sense 1) - "a fight or contest between individuals or groups". Haploidavey (talk) 21:20, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Another thought. "Martial arts" simply doesn't cover the ritualised, quasi sacrificial (or entirely sacrificial) intent of the earliest contests. It just sounds too... artsy. I've changed "armed combatant" to "armed fighter". Doesn't quite roll off the tongue, but seems to cover the bases. Haploidavey (talk) 21:24, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
See the example given for Combatant in Wiktionary. Not that I would use Wiktionary to prove anything. My laptop dictionary unhelpfully defines "gladiator" as "a man trained to fight" etc. I'm curious about gladiators making poor soldiers, though, since didn't they sometimes start out as war captives? That is, defeated soldiers? I thought that was how types such as the Thracian and the Gaul were imagined to have originated. I've probably just proved I haven't read the article head to toe. Cynwolfe (talk) 22:39, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, you have, but I'll save you the trouble... If enslaved ex-soldiers, I guess they'd have to unlearn whatever formation techniques they knew. Training (or retraining) was prolonged and generally for one-to-one fighting and an individual victory. All very disciplined, but entirely the wrong kind of discipline for battle-line formations. Gladiators were recruited by all protagonists in the "Four emperors" wars; and again by Marcus Aurelius when times were hard and recruits thin on the ground. Most secondary sources present gladiators as ill equipped for common soldiering, whether by temperament or training. Their reputation as crap soldiers seems to be based on the offhand remarks of a very few primary sources. Against this, Marius seems to have used them as instructors, and to good effect. Go figure. Haploidavey (talk) 22:52, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
I meant more that there were in the Republic gladiators who had been military men captured in war. And that's what the section on Origins implies. Cynwolfe (talk) 03:25, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
From what I can remember of the sources, none directly address this point, but here's some observations. Captured soldiers were certainly the earliest gladiators but things changed with the Spartacus revolt and/or the Caesar scare; after that, soldier-captives were distributed among the schools to reduce the possibility of gladiator revolt, and to limit their usefulness as private armies. I've no idea whether their later reputation as poor field soldiers was deserved, or why it arose, except that the literature more-or-less contemporary with this reputation refers to their choreographed, "elegant styles" of fighting. Too specialised, maybe? Actually, I think the last point might be someplace in the article. Haploidavey (talk) 10:51, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Or not team players in the way that legionaries were expected to be. After Spartacus (who some sources portray as having the qualities of a military leader because he had been one) it seems they had a policy of not training slaves to use weapons, except for those specialized as gladiators. But what was the Caesar scare? Cynwolfe (talk) 12:16, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, personal glory, even if it's morally on behalf of your master, school and "team", doesn't make a team player. Legionary tactics were team tactics. On the other business, I guess that when added to Caesar's client list and the personal loyalty of his trained soldiery, his ownership of a gladiator school was probably too much. Caesar's not named, but is the obvious target when a legal limit of 640 gladiators per munus was rushed into legislation, just before his Big Show - ostensibly and officially because the Senate feared another Spartacus crisis. Caesar settled for his 320 pairs but seems to have had more in reserve, and all this at a time when gladiators were proving their worth as "political muscle" and "personal bodyguards"; a way of having a private army without calling it that, and lawfully shifting it hither and yon, even into Rome at election time. Haploidavey (talk) 13:03, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
OK, I remember this now. Thanks. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:39, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

My recent import[edit]

Re: this message: I imported (or inserted) this edit into the Gladiator article from the Nostalgia Wikipedia. See principles 7 and 8 at User:Graham87/Import to find out why the diff looks a bit strange. Graham87 14:45, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

Still confused, I fear. Do you mean this was imported into the edit history? Not (obviously) into the article itself. So for some reason this wasn't a part of the article's edit history? Cynwolfe (talk) 15:20, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes, the edit was imported into the edit history. Graham87 03:59, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. Sorry to be such a dolt; I hadn't encountered this before. Cynwolfe (talk) 12:28, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

"Fag targeteers"[edit]

In my edit summary, I noted that this rude phrase was an accurate translation by Peter Green (historian). Gladiators, especially "pretty boys" like the retiarius, were often reviled as "effeminate" (to us a perverse disparagement, but see Sexuality in ancient Rome#Pleasure and infamy in addition to the "glamour" of the gladiator described in this article). So this is an accurate reflection of how the Romans thought of it. I thought it might be good to bracket the Latin after the inflammatory phrase, to make it clear that this was a translation. However, the Latin passage is textually vexed and I'm not immediately seeing where Green gets this phrase. (The gist of the passage is indeed that the brutes and the lightweights were quartered separately.) I'll try to look for a better Latin text and commentary. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:14, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Here the Loeb, and a recent one at that. The Latin isn't on a page I can see, but Braund's notes address the textual problems. Her translation is a bit opaque; without the notes you'd never know what was going on. Green seems to be producing a translation that can stand on its own, and such a translation tends to overreach at least a little. This may turn out to be a case where a summary/paraphrase gets the gist more accurately without wrestlin' over the details. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:28, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Snippet containing Green's translation. Cynwolfe (talk) 16:51, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Erm, indeed. Thanks so much for that, and the links. Complicated and a little fraught. I can't offer much more than simple reflexes at the mo' (OK for editing Janet and John) cuz most of my brain's on tow to the nearest workshop. Or breaker's yard. Still, the odour seems plain enough. So I'll ponder a while, see what comes up. And do please jump in if you're so inclined. Haploidavey (talk) 15:49, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

In the Oxford Fragment from Juvenal's Satira VI, line 8-9, there are two mysterious words psyllus/Psyllus and eupholio/Eupholio that have stumped translators. In the verse, the gladiator trainer is said to keep psyllus/Psyllus separate from eupholio/Eupholio. The rendering as "fag targeteer" is possibly extrapolated from an solution offered by J.A. Nairn in the Athenaeum, No. 3734 (May 20, 1899), p. 636 middle column. Taking Nairn's suggestion that Psyllus comes from Greek psulla and Eupholio from Greek pholis, it looks as though this refers to the retarius and the secutor (from Greek psulla = flea; venomous spider, referring to the retarius with his web and trident stinger, and eu + pholis = well supplied with thick scales). (Scanned version available online at Anyway, I am going to delete "fag targeteers" because it is just referring to the retarius which is already mentioned in the sentence. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Faris Malik (talkcontribs) 20:50, 15 February 2014 (UTC)


There should be a section about the different types of gladiators. I am not very well educated on gladiators, but I know that different types did exist, each with different armor and weapons. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:11, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

There is a list of Roman Gladiators, but an all inclusive list would be awesome.Beefcake6412 (talk) 20:14, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, see List of Roman gladiator types, in the "See also" section. It seems pretty awesomely inclusive to me. But this question comes up regularly enough here that I wonder whether there ought to be a more distinct section in the body of the article with the "Main" there. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:17, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Looks like consensus to me, and yes, a section on this is well overdue. It should probably have first place under The Gladiators subheading. I'll have a stab at it (and soon, I hope) with my blunted weapons. Haploidavey (talk) 21:19, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Thank you, Rudiarius. The link to the list is there, so I don't think you need anything but a slim paragraph mentioning some of the most common types, and what characteristics determine type (fighting style, armor). Cynwolfe (talk) 21:53, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

I fail to see the point of such a list when we can just link to List of Roman gladiator types. People who cannot be bothered to spot this list before asking about it on talk can be safely ignored, or of course pointed to the link politely. What the article should have instead is a coherent prose passage explaining the main types and their historical development. Perhaps imported from the introductory prose at the list article. --dab (𒁳) 14:06, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

I think there is a consensus that we need a section here consisting of one or two short paragraphs called something like "Gladiator types," with a "Main" link to the list article. However, the introduction to that article isn't very good, and uses rather mediocre sources when better ones are available. (The list itself relies on a piece by Junkelmann, which is fine.) Cynwolfe (talk) 15:07, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Order of the Edicts and Senate Register[edit]

Accordingly; the research compiled thus far is formidable for recognition, yet a substantive docket and dossier of edicts of the individual sub-governments and their official Senate registry would decisively prove fact from conjecture. With great respect to such collectives around the world, their addition in the main topic article would be strongly suggested; even if the bodies of such have been destroyed or dilapidated over time, their volumes and cumulative libraries should still be documented as documents at large. These games should always be remembered, least the horrors they were establish to prevent are reanimated. To summarize this critique, national libraries and museums in such regions have a vast wealth of ancient legislation and codified edicts, all of which should serve as a pillar for this article.

Habatchii (talk) 02:52, 6 March 2015 (UTC)


During the Imperial era, matches were sometimes advertised sine missione (without release [from the sentence of death]), which suggests that missio (the sparing of a defeated gladiator's life) had become a common practice at the games. The contract between editor and lanista could include compensation for unexpected deaths.[104][105] As the demand for gladiators began to exceed supply, matches sine missione were officially banned, a pragmatic Augustan decision that also happened to reflect popular demands for "natural justice".

I have an issue with this sentance from the above paragraph and believe it to be incorrect "As the demand for gladiators began to exceed supply, matches sine missione were officially banned"

it is saying that sine missione was banned because of less gladiators available. However in the above paragraph we define sine missione as matches without death. So how is banning matches without death adding to the total gladiator population? banning no death matches would actually increase the gladiator death and reduce the total population of fight-able gladiators.

Boilingorangejuice (talk) 04:03, 8 March 2016 (UTC)

You seem to have misread or reversed the meaning, somehow. Take another look. Sine missione means "without release from the sentence of death". A gladiator had a much better chance of survival if he fought a match in which missione ("release from the sentence of death") was granted. Haploidavey (talk) 08:35, 8 March 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the input. I understand now. However this part is confusing "(without release [from the sentence of death])" because it sounds like it means without release from death, which to me sounds like it means without release via death when it really means a gladiator may die in the fight; the exact opposite. I have changed the wording. Please let me know if i have violated any local wording constructions within the page Boilingorangejuice (talk) 03:52, 14 March 2016 (UTC)

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Semi-protected edit request on 26 February 2017[edit]

Footnote 138 is a dead link. Footnote 137 claims "Compared to modern athletes, they were probably overweight, but this may have "protected their vital organs from the cutting blows of their opponents". " but this is not verifiable information on the site sourced. This line should be deleted. Wikihuman13 (talk) 20:52, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

Partly done: Fixed dead link, did not get around to second part of request. JTP (talkcontribs) 21:11, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
CommentThe material supported by footnote 137 is (or was) based on a widely disseminated press release; an interview with Grosschmidt & team, who investigated the "gladator graveyard" at Ephesus. Will find it, and also provide a link to the paper itself - which of course offers a far more thorough treatment of the issues. I don't much like using press releases for this kind of information, as they tend to sensationalise the subject; I'm not sure that these possibly off-the-cuff statements to the press agency merit such prominence. That said, we should really not delete cited material unless no alternative sources can be found, or other sources contradict what's stated. So I'll take a closer look tomorrow. Btw (and in the meantime) the links at Footnotes 137 and 138 work fine for me. Haploidavey (talk) 22:04, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
Further to the above: have read through the reports on the investigations; imo, the cited press releases don't amount to accurate summaries of the investigative proceedures employed, or the conclusions drawn; nor would one expect them to - they're cherry-picking press releases (fat vegetarians!), designed to catch attention and readers ("you probably thought this, but guess what? Now subscribe, then read on". Rather like a DYK, I suppose...). The investigation is fascinating but its conclusions offer no surprises for anyone already familiar with the literary or visual ancient source material. Beyond the hard science at the core of their investigation into the bone composition, diet and injuries of gladiators, Kanz and Grossschmidt speculate that a layer of fat may have protected a gladiator's vital organs; that some might have fought barefoot. It's a tangent, and I really don't think we need to go there. Diet is already covered by primary and secondary specialist sources. For the barefoot business, see the images on several Gladiator mosaics; some are shod, some barefoot. So what's to be said? Does it matter? I don't think we should use Kanz and Grossschmidt at all (per WP:PRIMARY) unless though secondary appraisal by reputable, specialist secondary sources in history. And among the 61 authors who cited the paper, I couldn't find any historians who addressed the issue of fat vegetarian gladiators. Haploidavey (talk) 14:35, 28 February 2017 (UTC)
Already done — Train2104 (t • c) 06:06, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

I believe that the sources used throughout this article provided a very good look into the lives of gladiators. Specifically, sources provided a good insight not only into the lives of gladiators but how the gladiators lives impacts those of others around them including women. Also, the credibility of the sources lead me to consider that the social standing and traditions of these gladiators are factual and stood as cultural norms for how the gladiators and their relatives and loved ones would interact in roman society. Overall, i thought that this article was very well put together and that the sources provided allowed for a proper academic insight into the lives of Ancient Gladiators. Drewleach (talk) 23:57, 2 April 2017 (UTC)

Bias in Sources[edit]

I feel that the viewpoints and facts posted in this article are accurate and reliable, however, I feel like there is a lack of information from the side of the gladiators. There is little to nothing talking about the slavery trade, and the bad conditions and atrocities that gladiators ended up being involved in. I think this is most likely due to a lack of factual and usable information out there with relevance to this viewpoint. That being said I think the article should be read as a factual representation of gladiators and their history and presence in Roman society, but know there is a lack of facts on the dark side of gladiators in Rome. Rlippitt19 (talk) 18:58, 3 April 2017 (UTC)Alex Lippitt

Semi-protected edit request on 19 March 2019[edit]

HowieDaDuck (talk) 17:43, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

George Ville?[edit]

George Ville is mentioned in the "Life expectancy" section. I don't have Futrell's book, so I can't say for sure, but I think he refers to the French archaeologist and historian "Georges" Ville (1929-1967).--Furado (talk) 09:34, 22 March 2019 (UTC)