Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Gladiator's World

I love history and will use the slightest pretext to dig into my historical research. For The Gladiator's Woman, I delved into all my books on ancient Roman history, visited the library for more books, and surfed the Internet for hours at a time. What all that means is that I became quite well-acquainted with the world of Roman gladiators and with the various terms used to describe aspects of that world. The review at Literary Nymphs reminded me that not everyone is as familiar with the terms I used so today I'm going to talk a little bit about Scipio and what it meant to be a Roman gladiator.

When Collina meets Scipio he is a tiro, a rookie. He's never fought a gladiatorial combat before and he's just learning the ropes. He's been brought to the ludus, the gladiator school by Brutus, the lanista, the trainer who also happens to be the owner. Big, powerful gladiator schools would usually have an owner who was quite separate from the lanista or trainer but Scipio's ludus is a small one where it was common for the owner to double as the trainer.

Scipio goes on to fight in the retiarii style. The retiarus was the least well-armed of the gladiator styles - he didn't wear a helmet and he had only an arm guard to protect him but his lack of armour meant he was lighter on his feet. He also fought with a trident which gave him a long reach and he held a net he could cast over his opponent.

Spartacus, yes, that one, who fights Scipio used the secutor style (discovered this in my research) . Secutors were heavily armed - they wore helmets, a leg guard, and carried a small shield.

Other gladiator styles which I didn't go into in my story were the murmillo who would go into combat with a long, oblong shield, and the thraex or Thracian who carried a much smaller shield and a curved sword.

Gladiators and their lanistas were the social untouchables of the Roman world but, for all that, they could be quite rich and some gladiators were virtual sex objects - lusted after by the wives and daughters of senators and emperors.

Have a great Easter!

No comments: