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Chapter

Classical Studies 3400E Chapter Notes -Gladiator, Loincloth


Department
Classical Studies
Course Code
CS 3400E
Professor
Chris Piper

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1. Why were gladiators considered attractive?
Social Status Gladiators and actors had an ambivalent status in ancient Rome,
and there were very real reasons for this. Gladiators were at the furthest margin of the
social Because the women and men who acted, sang, danced or performed for the
delectation and delight of the crowd put themselves on display so publicly, actors,
dancers, prostitutes, gladiators were often likened to prostitutes (who also displayed
themselves and their bodies openly; thus were thought to have given up control over
them). Such persons were often associated with sexual promiscuity (especially if
female/effeminate).
Virtus Gladiators were popular because they displayed a quality called virtus, a
very important value in the Roman ethical system. The manly skill and courage shown by
gladiators won great approval because it was connected with fighting in wartime— and
Roman was a state which was at war every year somewhere in her vast empire.
Bloodshed, slaughter, military glory and violence were central elements in Roman
culture.
Gladiators could also be feared because of their physical size, prowess with
weapons, and ability to inflict bodily harm. There was a basis for the Roman anxiety
here. Spartacus' rebellion in the 70's BC began in a gladiatorial school. It took three years
for the Roman army to stamp it out. When civil unrest broke out generally, one of the
first things the Roman state usually did was break up the gladiatorial schools. Caesar in
49 BCE was feared because of his client army but also because of his 5000 gladiators
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