The New Dealer

  • October 12October 2018 Edition

Blood and Sand: Gods of the Arena

Marat Potapov, Reporter

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We humans have lived on the Earth for many many years. As we progressed, we evolved and society along with us. One of the main aspects of society is entertainment. There have been many forms of it throughout history from the theaters of Shakespeare to YouTube and movies. In ancient times with limited technology, people had to rely  on other forms of entertainment. One of these such creative forms of entertainment was a thing called the “Games of the Arena.” Although this form of entertainment was put into place by the Romans. The idea of using fights for entertainment had been around for longer. The Gladiatorial Arena was a place one did not want to end up. On the sands of the arena whether or not you lived was up to you. However, this was only until the people, or the owners of the arena, got tired of you. Then, they would put you up against impossible odds, and you would be slaughtered.

The Life of a Gladiator

Most gladiators sent to the arena were either slaves, people who owe debts, prisoners of war, or Roman soldiers who disobeyed a command (that last one was rare but it occurred). Once a slave was bought to be a gladiator, he would be taken to what is called a ludus where they would serve their dominos (owner of a ludus who would provide gladiators for the arena). They would go through brutal training, to become a gladiator. Then, after a period of time, the future gladiators would take a test. If they passed, they swore an oath and got branded as a gladiator. If they failed, they were sent to places such as mines where they would die of beatings or old age. It was like being sent to hell. Those branded with the mark of the ludus would fight in the arena for their dominos until death. The Arena itself was a thing to behold. It had hundreds of seats, various gates, and trap doors which would allow things like animals or centurions to come in and make the battle more intense. The most famous arena ever built is the Colosseum in Rome.

The Rudus: The Way Out

Once a gladiator, escaping slavery was near to impossible. However, there was a way one could earn their freedom. The Rudus, a wooden gladius (roman sword) engraved with all the victories of the gladiator, was a special acknowledgement and granted freedom. Earning that freedom was not an easy task. The only way for one to be granted a Rudus is if the crowd became so amused and satisfied with the match, they would chant the name of the gladiator as if chanting to a god.

The Thumb

One of the most famous aspects of the arena is the famous thumbs up and thumbs down. This is where the hand gesture came from. After a match it was up to the rich social class to decide the fate of the one who lost (if he is still alive). They would sit in a balcony above all with front row seats to the battle, and the crowd would either chant death or mercy. Then, the host would make the final verdict a thumbs up for mercy and a thumbs down for death. That same host would also be the one to cast the verdict that decided the issuing of the Rudus.

Entertainment Today

Although  some might consider this form of entertainment as a violation of natural rights and a horrible act of humanity, there are those who would say that it was great at the time. We still to this day use blood and gore as a from of valid entertainment. Take for example bloody video games, which in a way, you are the gladiator. Or those bloody shows. The best example you can find of this is the TV Show Game of Thrones. It has an extreme amount of blood and gore, and yet remains to be one of the most watched shows ever made. The reality is real people are not being scarified for our entertainment. However, our thirst for watching others suffer for entertainment still exists.

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