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Of all the popular gladiator types, perhaps the most unusual was the “retiarius,” who was armed with only a net and a trident.These warriors tried to ensnare their opponents with their net before moving in for the kill, but if they failed, they were left almost entirely defenseless.Get the facts on the enigmatic men-at-arms behind Ancient Rome’s most notorious form of entertainment.Not all gladiators were brought to the arena in chains. Lured by the thrill of battle and the roar of the crowds, scores of free men began voluntarily signing contracts with gladiator schools in the hope of winning glory and prize money.Some historians think the sign for death may have actually been the thumbs up, while a closed fist with two fingers extended, a thumbs down, or even a waved handkerchief might have signaled mercy.Whatever gesture was used, it was typically accompanied by ear-piercing cries of either “let him go! ” If the crowd willed it, the victorious gladiator would deliver a grisly coup de grace by stabbing his opponent between the shoulder blades or through the neck and into the heart. D., gladiator games had evolved from freewheeling battles to the death into a well-organized blood sport.C., government officials began hosting state-funded games as a way of currying favor with the masses.Hollywood movies and television shows often depict gladiatorial bouts as a bloody free-for-all, but most fights operated under fairly strict rules and regulations.
Convicted criminals and Christians were often thrown to ravenous dogs, lions and bears as part of the day’s entertainment.
Most only lived to their mid-20s, and historians have estimated that somewhere between one in five or one in 10 bouts left one of its participants dead.
If a gladiator was seriously wounded or threw down his weapon in defeat, his fate was left in the hands of the spectators.
Animal hunts were typically the opening event at the games, and it wasn’t unusual for scores of unfortunate creatures to be slaughtered in a single exhibition.
Nine thousand animals were slain during a 100-day ceremony to mark the opening of the Colosseum, and another 11,000 were later killed as part of a 123-day festival held by the Emperor Trajan in the 2nd century A. While most animals were merely slaughtered for sport, others were trained to do tricks or even pitted against one another in fights.