||Gladiators were prisoners or slaves who were forced
to fight each other, against professional fighters, or against animals. They usually
fought to the death. Before fighting they marched around the arena before the imperial
box. To make the competition interesting the gladiators each used a different weapon.
Gladiators wore arm and leg armor below the knee and elbows and carried shields. They wore
belted tunics. Some gladiators fought on horseback or chariots. Combatants who had fallen
to the ground asked for mercy. The crowd decided by booing or cheering if the wounded
gladiator should live or die. The emperor would give a thumbs up or thumbs down. The
thumbs down sign meant death to the losing gladiator. Successful gladiators became heroes.
Some were even set free.
To make the fights
more interesting gladiators used a variety of weapons. A net and a fisherman's spear or
trident were used along with the more common weapons such as daggers or swords.
The biggest arena in the city of Rome was the
Colosseum. It could seat up to 50,000 people. The Colosseum was made of concrete. The
concrete was poured into large wooden molds. The molds were in the shape of large arches.
Spartacus was a slave. In 73 B. C. he
and a group of his friends broke out of their quarters. They pulled together an army of
90,000 slaves in a very short time. The Romans sent legion after legion to capture the
slaves. Finally in 71 B. C. three Roman armies captured Spartacus. The Romans killed
Spartacus and crucified his followers.