The time is 264 BC the place Rome and we are at the funeral of Junius Brutus a distinguished aristocrat
Now it was the norm to have slaves in that time and the family of the deceased have arranged for the slaves to fight to the death in his honour, this is believed to be first time this sort of spectacle had taken place, many spectators attended, and the birth of the Gladiatorial games was born. Bit by bit the fights became more important than the funeral itself and it wasn’t long before a fight was arranged just for the contest itself, as is the boxing matches of today the Roman games were organized by wealthy entrepreneurs as a means to boost their influence and purse and It is still possible to see advertisements painted on the walls of houses and tombs in Pompeii, depicting forthcoming fights.
Gladiators were as today’s prize fighters
Some Gladiators as the fighters were known as, started to build themselves a reputation as great fighters and become well know and as it is today the bigger the names the more spectators attended. Gladiators were owned by their agents, and were booked out to sponsors of the fights, it was important to the agent that their Gladiator was strong and healthy, so they given a Vegan diet as it was considered to be the best way to health and fitness .
It was quite a coup for the sponsors to have several big names fighting on the same bill, the big difference between the fights of today and the gladiatorial fights of Rome was that they would often fight to the death, slaves from all over the Roman Empire were sent to be trained as Gladiators.
Some men actuality wanted to be Gladiators
Not all fights ended in death, if a trainer had a good fighter he would be often “Booked” to fight in a game by a sponsor, and it was up to the sponsor if that fighter was to be put to the sword, if he did it would cost him (The sponsor) a lot more, sometimes up to a hundred times more, so, often the gladiators were allowed to live to fight another day. Not all Gladiators were slaves, some were amazingly volunteers the Gladiator had begun to build up such a reputation as a cult figure that it was almost an honour to be one, some of the better Gladiator were looked upon as the pop stars are today and had many fans who would follow them to all their fights, this could be one of the reasons for volunteering, they also received a large down payment when they first signed up.
Thumbs up or down, it was up to the sponsor
Upon winning a contest Gladiators were awarded a wreath, some paraded their wreaths, like a prize boxer of today holds up the belt they had won. The big fights were often between two of the big names of the day, after a fight between two great Gladiators it was up to the sponsor whether the victor should spare or put to death the loser. The sponsor would often be influence by the crowds, if the sponsor gave a thumb down to a great fighter thereby ending his life and career; it was seen as a gesture of sponsors generosity and a measure of their wealth