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The Gladiator & More Ancient Roman Facts

During ancient times, the way the people played, cooked their food, and entertained one another greatly differs from today. In fact, many of the things that ancient civilizations participated in are illegal in today’s society. From slavery to forcing men to fight beasts for public amusement were just some of the things that this article touches upon.  

Playing games was also a pastime of ancient Romans. Typically, they enjoyed games that involved dice, marbles, and knucklebones, which were jacks comprised of dried animal bones. Infants were given rattles and noisemakers to play with. Children were kept busy with ivory or terra cotta masks, ivory cutout letters, miniature sacrificial instruments, and figurines of gods made out of lead. Ancient Rome also produced jump ropes, kites, yo-yos, and swings. Small wooden toys and dolls were also popular. Other enjoyments included of the time included rag dolls, wax figurines, checkers, and small carts pulled by animals, such as the family goat, pony, or dog.

After a slave named Spartacus and a group of his friends escaped their quarters and assembled an army consisting of 90,000 slaves, the ancient Romans learned not to underestimate the power of people on the lower totem pole. To capture back the slaves, legion upon legion were sent. It wasn’t until 71 BC when three Roman armies got their hands on Spartacus. They killed him and crucified his followers to send a message to the people.

The ancient Romans enjoyed watching prisoners or slaves fight one another, professional fighters, or fierce animals (like tigers and bears). This was the life of the gladiator, who often fought to the death. Before engaging in battle, they marched about the arena, making a pass at the imperial box. To spice up the competitions, a different weapon was integrated into the contest. The gladiators were dressed in a belted tunic and decorated with arm and leg armor below the knee and elbows. In their hands, they carried shields. While some gladiators fought on horseback, others rode in chariots. If a loser of a battle fell to the ground, they would beg for mercy. The crowd was the deciding factor as to whether or not the wounded gladiator would live or die. They responded with cheers or boos to submit their answer. However, it was the emperor who made the final decision and would give thumbs up or thumbs down to relay his answer. If a losing gladiator received a thumbs down, it meant death. Popular and winning gladiators were regarded as heroes and in some cases, were set free.

In order to preserve their food, ancient Romans used salt or spread honey on fresh fruits. They also used smoking and dehydration as a means for keeping their edibles safe.

You’d be surprised to know that asparagus was a highly sough-after delicacy in ancient Roman days. For special events and festivals, it was kept frozen in the Alps.