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The most notorious gladiators in history – Toptenz.net

Gladiators entertained the Roman crowd 2,000 years ago and they entertain us today in movies and TV shows. They are some of the most famous fighters of antiquity, but we know a shocking little about them. There are very few detailed descriptions of an actual struggle and those that we have received from unreliable sources such as poets. We're not even sure what the exact rules of a gladiator game are.

But today we focus on what we know, not what we do not know, and we bring you 10 remarkable stories of gladiators who have eternally earned notoriety or shame.

10th Flamma

For the majority of gladiators, the most popular weapon was a simple wooden sword or rod, called Rudis . This is what they used in training, but for a different reason, it was very important. If a fighter had made a great impression on the crowd, and especially the officer of the Games, he could have obtained Rudis which meant he gained his freedom.

Obviously this was the target for many gladiators but not for Flamma. We know little about him, and most of it comes from the inscription on his tombstone in Sicily. He was a Syrian by nationality and fought 34 times as a gladiator. He was a Sekutor, a fortified class of gladiators who used armor, a heavy shield, and a short sword called Gladius.

Flamma won 21 battles. Nine of his bouts ended in a draw and four were losses, although he had spared death in three of them. His final defeat cost him his life and Flamma died at the age of 30.

We do not have many detailed gladiator data, but this is one of the most impressive so far. What truly distinguishes Flamma as a gladiator is that if he had wanted to, he would have been able to leave this life. He was awarded and rudis no less than four times, but decided to fight each time further.

. 9 Carpophorus

Technically, the term "gladiator" only refers to fighters used against other men. However, it is often used in the wider sense and therefore also includes bestiarii ie men who fought against beasts. This group was also generally divided into two categories. There were criminals who were sentenced to damnatio ad bestias which means that they were sentenced to be executed by wild animals. There were also venatores experienced fighters who preferred to take beasts for money and glory.

Of the latter, perhaps none was greater than Carpophorus. He became famous during the games of 80 AD, which was ordered by Emperor Titus to celebrate the finished construction of the Coliseum. Carpophorus impressed Martial so much that he wrote three epigrams in which he reported on his heroic deeds.

He claimed Carpophorus had defeated a boar, a bear, a lion and a leopard in the arena, and was then in the mood to continue fighting. He could easily have taken on the Marathon Bull and the Nemean Lion, and a single blow from Carpophorus would have killed the deadly Hydra. He deserved all the honor Hercules received because Carpophorus managed to defeat twenty animals once.

At this point, we should remember that Martial was a poet and not a historian, so his artistic side may have flared up a bit too much in describing the exploits of Bestiarius .

. 8 Amazonia and Achillea

Undoubtedly, the fight against gladiators was a male-dominated sport, but not limited to men. We have historical evidence and records showing that there were female gladiators. These battles were certainly rarer and emperors had different feelings in terms of practice, as they imposed various restraints that culminated with Septimius Severus, who banned female gladiators in 200 AD.

The evidence for the existence of these female fighters or [19659007] ludia as they were called is incredibly rare. Unfortunately, we can only name a few. Juvenal, another Roman poet, mentions a beast hunter named Mevia.

A marble relief from the 2nd century AD uncovered in modern-day Turkey revealed the story of two fighters named Amazonia and Achillea. They fought undecided and their fight was clearly so popular that it justified the commemoration in the form of sculptures. Because of their stage names, the scholars believed that the two gladiators had recreated the mythological struggle between Achilles and the Amazonian queen Penthesilea during the Battle of Troy. In recent years, historians have also rethought another statuette as depicting a gladiator celebrating her victory. She is naked except for a loincloth and knee pads and holds a scythe-like tool over her head. Scholars used to think she was purifying herself, but now they believe she was actually a Ludia triumphantly raising her hand.

The most exciting discovery came in 2000, when the first excavations took place in London, of which so far only it was believed that they belong to a gladiator informally known as the Great Dover Street Woman.

. 7 Marcus Attilius

Now let's look at Marcus Attilius, a young fighter who could be responsible for the biggest upheaval in the history of the gladiators.

Attilius was a Tiro which means that he was in the beginning a beginner of his career. Nevertheless, in his first fight he was compared to Hilarus, an Imperial gladiator from the personal squad of Emperor Nero, who had collected 13 victories in the arena .

Usually, most gladiatorial games try to play fighters of equal skill and experience against each other. In this case, however, the organizers of the games put a veteran against a freshman. This most likely happened as a showcase for Hilarus, who was probably very popular as one of Nero's gladiators. The unthinkable happened, however – Attilius won. In addition, he continued his winning streak by beating another veteran fighter named Raecius Felix.

Marcus Attilius & # 39; s impressive start to his gladiator career has only been through some old graffiti. Unfortunately, we do not know how it ended, though we know that both Hilarus and Raecius fought bravely enough against him to earn missio which means they were spared death.

. 6 The German

For this next fighter we do not even know his name, we only know that he was a German, who worked in a training school for "gladiators of wild beasts". But not who he was made him remarkable, but rather what he did and how he did it.

In addition to the right gladiators, there were many wretched men in the arenas whose sole purpose was to commit a violent, cruel death to quench the crowd's bloodlust. These showcases typically took place around noon, making them more or less the Roman version of a halftime show.

As you can imagine, many of these convicted men would have preferred a quick suicide rather than being slaughtered or slaughtered for the benefit of the public. However, such a death would be a waste of money for the organizers, which is why they closely guard these doomed men and ensure that they did not have any access to weapons before entering the arena.

Seneca was one of the few Roman statesmen who spoke out against this practice. He said he was disgusted by this cruel slaughter that was meant to distract the plebs while the aristocrats went to lunch. He also told us about the German who made extreme efforts to go on his own terms. Suicide was a positive thing used to break "the bonds of human bondage". He talks about the German, who relieved himself before his fight, as it was the only time he stayed unguarded. He reached for the only object he could find-a stick with a sponge "dedicated to the worst purposes." In other words, the Romans were wiping their butts with it. The German, a "brave fellow" as described by Seneca, shoved it in the throat and choked himself to death.

. 5 Priscus and Verus

There is not much information about certain matches, but there is one that has withstood the test of time – the battle between Priscus and Verus. We know it again with the kind permission of the poet Martial, as this match took place during the same opening games in which Carpophorus killed each animal in sight. The fight between the two men was described as the climax of the opening ceremony and remains the only known detailed account of a gladiatorial game. Priscus and Verus fought well and hard for a long time and seemed to be equal. The fight lasted so long that the crowd started shouting that the two fighters would be fired. Emperor Titus, however, held to his rule that the fight would only end when one of the gladiators raised a finger, which meant he gave in and begged for mercy.

Finally, both Priscus and Verus raised their fingers at the same time. As a reward for their brave efforts, Titus awarded both men a rudis and the prize of the game. Taking advantage of his poetic license again, Martial ended the epigram with a tribute to the emperor's goodwill: "Under no prince but you, Caesar, this has a chance: while two fought, each was the victor."


Can a failed referee call a gladiator not only for the match, but for his life as well? It seems that this was the case with an unfortunate fighter named Diodor.

Everything we know about him comes from the tombstone on his marble found in Samsun on the north coast of Turkey. It says: "Here I am victorious, Diodorus the wretch. After breaking my opponent Demetrius, I did not kill him immediately. But the murderous fate and sneaky betrayal of summa rudis killed me … "

Normally, the inscriptions on gladiator gravestones contain only modest information such as names, profit / loss records, and possibly the Like You died in the arena. That alone makes this tombstone unique and invaluable. It also provides us with significant evidence that gladiatorial combat may not have been all brutal close combat without regard to rules. They even seemed to have umpires named summa rudis who were there to make sure the fighters kept the rules.

At the same time it should also be mentioned that the tombstone of Diodorus was dated to the 2nd to 3rd century AD. Gladiatorial battles have been going on for almost 500 years, and it is likely that the rules have changed and evolved over time.

At least at the time of Diodorus, scholars believed that there was a rule that would allow a gladiator to stand up if he accidentally fell, but not if he was overturned by his opponent. According to the epitaph, Diodorus Demetrius fell and had the victory in hand, but the referee intervened. The summa rudis falsely believed that Demetrius had fallen through an accident and allowed him to get up and get his gun. He then killed Diodorus.

. 3 Spiculus

In the case of Spiculus, it was not what he did in the arena that made him famous, but his life after. We do not know much about his gladiatorial abilities, but we know he has done well enough to earn the favor of Emperor Nero. In fact, Nero not only granted Spiculus his freedom, but also made him a Roman citizen of high social standing, giving him a vast land and fortune.

Nero appointed Spiculus Commander of his personal horse watch, a unit he greatly valued. His confidence was well set when the Emperor really deserved the immortal loyalty of the former gladiator. When the conspiracy to overthrow Nero came into force, he was betrayed by his praetorians, but not by the spiculus-led horse guard. Finally, the remaining guardsmen left the Emperor, but Spiculus remained loyal and was lynched by an angry mob as one of "Nero's men." It was later reported that Nero was looking for Spiculus in his last hour, as he wanted Gladiator to be the one to deliver the fatal blow.

. 2 Commodus

The emperor always experienced gladiatorial combat from a special luxurious box, not from the bottom of the arena in the middle of the action. That is, unless the emperor was Commodus.

Let's make that clear from the beginning: Commodus was terribly cruel and selfish. He considered himself the reincarnation of Hercules and sought a way to prove his physical ability. Of course he could not resist the appeal of the arena.

All his struggles were obviously fixed. His opponents have always submitted and he has never been in physical danger. If he killed animals, he did so from an elevated platform that prevented him from being harmed. According to Cassius Dio he killed one hundred bears in one day.

Commodus was shocked and used a wooden sword to fight gladiators. He was not so compassionate when training at home because he wore a steel blade there. He enjoyed occasionally cutting off his nose or ear, and as Dio put it, he also managed to "kill a man now and then" on her knees in the middle of the arena. He armed them with sponges instead of stones and beat them to death as if he were Hercules killing giants.

His gladiatorial appearances were poorly attended. Although Dio never said that Commodus actually did, he stated that there was a belief among the Romans that the Emperor enjoyed firing random arrows into the crowd to mimic Hercules, who was chasing the Stymphal birds. Despite his lack of popularity in the arena, Commodus was undoubtedly the highest paid gladiator in history. For every performance, he charged one million sesterces, which resulted in a sharp decline in the Roman economy.


Of course, Spartacus is the most notorious gladiator of all time. The slave who led one of the greatest uprisings in ancient history of which you can read in our video about Spartacus on our other YouTube channel Biographics

73 BC. Nearly 80 slaves can learn in detail escaped the gladiator school of Batiatus in Capua. For two years, they roamed the Spartacean-led Roman Empire and rallied an army that reached around 100,000 at its peak.

The Spartakan army won victory over victory against the Roman forces as the Senate repeatedly underestimated the power and resolve of the rebels. It was hard to believe that a group of slaves, peasants and shepherds could prove such a challenge to Almighty Rome.

It was only when Marcus Crassus, possibly the richest man in Roman history, intervened that the tide began to turn. In fact, Crassus's forces finally defeated the slave army and Spartacus himself was killed in combat.

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