Gladiators offered spectators an example of Rome’s martial ethics and, in fighting or dying well, they could inspire admiration and popular acclaim.
Gladiators were celebrated in high and low art, and their value as entertainers was commemorated in precious and commonplace objects throughout the Roman world.
The origin of gladiatorial combat is still open to debate.
There is evidence they were first held in 310 BC by the Campanians in celebration of their victory over the Samnites and thereafter it rapidly became an essential feature of politics and social life in the Roman world.
Its popularity led to its use in ever more lavish and costly games.
Gladiator games reached their peak between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD, and they finally declined during the early 5th century after the adoption of Christianity as state church of the Roman Empire in 380.
Today, January 1, 404 is the widely held date for the last of the Gladiator games in Rome, Italy.
“In times in which peace and peace relating to domestic affairs prevail bloody demonstrations displease us. Therefore, we order that there may be no more gladiator combats. Those who were condemned to become gladiators for their crimes are to work from now on in the mines. Thus they pay for their crimes without having to pour their blood.”
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