Segments in this Video

Introduction: Gladiators - The Brutal Truth (01:22)


Romans built the Arena of Nimes over 1,800 years ago. Ancient spectators watched animals and humans put to death. The gladiator was the central figure in the spectacle.

Pompeii and the Coliseum (03:43)

The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD froze Pompei in time. Emperor Trajan built a vast theater of death in the center of Rome the following year; 60,000 spectators could watch spectacles of death.

Killing Wild Animals (03:30)

Bullfights are the last trace of what once happened at Roman arenas. The Romans hunted so intensively for creatures to kill, that they wiped out the large animals of Europe and the Middle East.

Public Executions (03:11)

Rome saw itself as an embattled island of civilization surrounded by a savage world. The arena deliberately altered this worldview. Criminals, Christians, and other non-conformists were depicted as powerless in the face of savagery that only Rome could tame.

Celebrated Gladiators (05:01)

Gladiators were symbols of bravery and virility; they were popular but had little social standing. Typically, gladiators fought two to three times a year until they were killed or allowed to retire. Mortal combat was relatively rare due to cost.

"Life of Brian" (07:17)

Terry Jones filmed comedic gladiator combat in the late 1970s. He learned about training, weapons, and gladiator archetypes.

Arena Deaths (03:10)

Gladiators received a final dinner the night before a bout during which the public watched and made bets. Gladiators had to await permission before making a kill; the thumb gestures depicted in movies may never have existed.

Combat Origins (05:00)

Killing for sport was seen as quintessentially Roman. Gladiator combat had roots in a type of human sacrifice practiced at funerals. The wealthy bought slaves and made them fight to the death.

Celebrating Violence (09:33)

Wealthy Romans decorated their homes with murals of dead gladiators. They celebrated ruthlessness and enjoyed seeing the undesirables punished. Contrary to modern worldviews, violent spectacle confirmed community values.

Roman Influences (05:40)

Christianity was widely practiced in Rome during the fourth century. The influx of barbarians may have been what spelled the end of gladiator games.

Credits: Gladiators - The Brutal Truth (00:53)

Credits: Gladiators - The Brutal Truth

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Gladiators - The Brutal Truth

Part of the Series : Ancient Rome - The Rise And Fall Of An Empire
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



For 750 years, the local colosseum was the only place to go if you were looking for some action. What began as human sacrifice during funeral rites for wealthy families resulted in a violent, bloody battle staged in front of 50,000 fans. Gladiators were slaves, but the archaeological remains at Pompeii and the Roman Colosseum reveal that they were held in the same esteem as modern day sports stars. Gladiators explains how this "sport" was used as a tool of political power and how the Gladiators rose up and waged war against their owners. Two versions are available: presenter-free, and presenter-led, with Terry Jones of Monty Python fame.

Length: 49 minutes

Item#: FPT185551

ISBN: 978-1-64867-017-6

Copyright date: ©2000

Closed Captioned

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