Gladiators, Slaves, and Resistance

  • Brent D. Shaw
Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)


Gladiators were men trained to fight with a sword (gladius) and other weapons in order to kill or wound each other for the entertainment of spectators. Other armed professional entertainers known as beast fighters (bestiarii) or hunters (venatores) were trained to hunt wild animals such as leopards and bears for the enjoyment of large crowds. Gladiatorial games were a defining element of Roman culture as it developed in the third and second centuries b.c. They were first developed to their most intensive level in the region of Campania, south of Rome (see Maps 3 and 4). Any analysis of the Spartacus slave war must take into account the fact that the gladiatorial schools and training facilities in this region were centered on the wealthy city of Capua. Many of our best sources of evidence about Roman gladiators, including notices for their performances, come from the city of Pompeii, located about forty-five miles south of Capua.


Large Crowd Intensive Level Roman Historian Roman Culture Musical Accompaniment 
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Copyright information

© Bedford/St. Martin’s 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brent D. Shaw
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaUSA

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