With Dr. Eireann Marshall
Romans saw themselves as a militaristic society and, as a result, placed great emphasis on the virtue of manliness or virtus. This lies at the heart of the popularity of gladiators who so clearly captured the imaginations of Romans that Juvenal offers the stereotype of women abandoning their lives to run off with them. They were also so clearly a topic of discussion that Pompeiian graffiti abounds with scratched images of gladiators. The plethora of movies and television programmes on gladiators produced today provides evidence for their enduring popularity. That said, the origins of gladiatorial games, how they were run and their role in uniting Roman cities and the empire is hotly contested. The famous thumbs down gesture, how often gladiators died and the status of gladiators is something we can’t ever be sure of. This lecture addresses these questions and looks at why Romans were so fascinated by gladiators.