gladiators [Lat.,=swordsmen], in ancient Rome, class of professional fighters, who performed for exhibition. Gladiatorial combats usually took place in amphitheaters. They probably were introduced from Etruria and originally were funeral games. Gladitorial combats, which took place in the Colosseum and in hundreds of other ampitheaters throughout the Roman world, reached their height in the 1st and 2d cent. A.D.

The gladiators were paired off to fight each other, usually to the number of about 100 couples, although in the imperial shows there were sometimes as many as 5,000 pairs. There were various types of gladiators, armed and armored differently. Thus a heavily armored man, a Mirmillo or Samnite, might be opposed to a Retiarius, who fought almost naked, with a net and a trident as his only weapons. He also might be pitted against a Thracian, who fought with a dagger and a small round shield. Often gladiators were made to fight wild beasts. A defeated gladiator was usually killed by the victor unless the people expressed their desire that he be spared.

At first, gladiators were invariably slaves or prisoners, including Christians. They normally underwent rigid training, and some gained immense popularity. Later, impoverished freedmen also sought a living as gladiators, and finally even members of the ruling classes took part in gladiatorial combats on an amateur basis. Some gladiators, led by Spartacus, took part in the third of the Servile Wars (73 B.C.-71 B.C.). Constantine I forbade gladiatorial games, but they nonetheless continued until A.D. 405.

See studies by M. Grant (1968), E. Kohne, ed. (2000), A. Futrell (2001), and F. Meijer (2005).

Wembley Live Shows 1992

The first set of Wembley live shows saw the roadtesting of both new Gladiators and new events. Some of the contenders from the live shows made it onto the televised shows. Tilt, Suspension Bridge and Joust were all road tested and carried forward onto the next series (albeit with slight modifications). Atlaspheres, The Wall and The Eliminator were also played.

Highlights from these shows were shown in a preview episode to the 1993 series.

Venue: Wembley Arena, London, England
Presenters: John Fashanu and Ulrika Jonsson
Referee: John Anderson
Timekeeper: Andrew Norgate

New Gladiators
Female Gladiators Male Gladiators
Zodiac Bullit
Gladiators not appearing in future shows

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