The following is an exerpt from our Roman Gladiator journal we did in Social Studies. It talks about the life of a Roman Gladiator the Coliseum and the way of living in Rome..
The Roman Gladiator Journal Excerpt
Today is the 9th of January 2011. We found this ancient journal that was left behind by a Roman Gladiator by the name of Antonius Domitius. It was found early this morning in the substructure where the cages use to be. That’s where they would often contain the Gladiators and animals before the fight. It tells us so much new information that we may have never know without this. He talks a lot about how he is a Murmillo Gladiator and how often he would have to train. One of the things that us historians found very interesting was how often he would talk about his best friend Titus and of course his family. When his family heard that himself and his best friend Titus were both bought by a wealthy roman to become a gladiator they were very disappointed. His family didn’t want him to go off to training school and learn how to become a Gladiator because they were very nervous of him never coming back to help with the family business and of course risking his life. He was the oldest of 3 and had 2 younger sisters. They lived in a small house by their family business. Titus his best friend also left his family and went on to also become a Roman Gladiator. The sad part was when they heard the news of what type of Gladiator they would become. Titus became a Hoplomachus Gladiator while Antonius became a Murmillo. The both got really upset about this. This was the most common match up to make the fights fun to watch. They didn’t want to get matched up to one another and have to risk their own life or even their best friend’s life. Right now we are getting the journal analyzed and getting all the information out of it that we may need for later in history. We also need to make sure it is ok to publish and put it in the town library. Hear take a look at some of the entries. There has to be at least over 450 entries in hear it’s all about how his life started and ended as a Gladiator.
I’m now off to my first Performance and I’m really nervous. All of our performances were always held in the Coliseum or nicknamed the sand arena because everything was covered in san to soak up the blood. Before the coliseum was built they would often fight in rich people’s houses. It is the most recognizable building in Rome. Did you know that before it was built they had already been building amphitheaters off of the same module? When I saw the amphitheater my first question was how big it is and the answer is 188 x 156m or 48.5 miles wow that’s big! I win! I just faced a Retiarius the fishermen Gladiator.
The awnings were an amazing feature they were what kept the coliseum from getting too hot. When the interior got hit by the sun it got really hot. Sometimes on really hot days the emperor would remove the awnings and demand no one to leave. Without them I would be literally dying during the performance. It was a very hard challenge to keep the entire arena shaded at times. To help with the issue of keeping it completely shaded they had a very unique feature, a retractable roof. To be able to have the awnings they were held up by a system of ropes hanging from 240 bays on the top story of the building.
The plan started out in an oval shaped footprint. All of the performances that were held happened in the forum. It ended up being a semicircular plan. The arena is and ellipse. It was made like this so it was a good view for everyone. It bothered the romans a lot if there was a mixed crowd. To fix this issue they sorted out the spectators by rank. They also sorted senators and rich people into men and women. They would get the front rows of seating and the women would often have to sit in the back on wooden stools. They had separate seats for bachelors and soldiers. The only way that people and gladiators could only access the arena from the individual corridor exit. They would often have separate entrances to control the large crowd.
The arena’s seats were separated by a high parapet these helped so no one in the crowd would get injured during the performance. It was steeply ranked seating so wherever you sat you could see. Not only gladiatorial games were held here but sometimes beast fights took place here along with slaves and even sometimes Christians were executed here for discipline along with some criminals as well. Something that I thought was cool was the graffiti in the bottom of the arena it is even called graffiti.
My favorite part of the arena was the substructure because this is where I was able to contain myself before the fights or performances happened. There were 32 cages that held the animals and gladiators before the performance. I would often write my journal entries before I went to perform. I would write the date and who I was going against and a note to my family in case I didn’t get that chance to hoping someone may find where I left it someday. All the cages lead through narrow passages that lead to the arena. They had upper floors to watch the beasts and prisoners. The lifts would help lift scenery up for the stage set.
The first 3 levels had about 80 columns to create a framed arch. There was always an entrance to go through because there was a total of about 76. Each entrance would lead to a spectator. The emperor’s party entered from the North, Consuls entered from the South entrance, Performers would enter from the West and then dead bodies were left by the East wing.