Gladiators were a big part of Ancient Roman culture. As people needed some entertainment as well as food, gladiator fights were one of the most popular events along with theater and parties. While men fighting between themselves and against animals is well known and often depicted in films, female gladiators or gladiatrix were something very exotic; as a result very little is known about them. Let’s see if you’ve heard of any of these facts before.
Gladiatrix is the modern name that is used to describe female gladiators. The evidence of their existence is very scarce so the name was added recently. Still “female gladiator” is mainly used to name these warriors.
Female gladiators were a novelty so in the beginning all the attention was drawn to them. They had special audiences and performed in front noble citizens and foreign visitors.
It was illegal
Due to such popularity of this form of entertainment, gladiators were under particular legal regulation. The children of influential citizens were not allowed to be gladiators. This was later extended to children and citizen women. This, however, didn’t prevent low class women joining in. Gladiators’ wives, partners or followers could fight equally against men.
There were no female gladiator schools so most of the female gladiators were self-trained or hired private tutors. They were expected to train almost as hard as men to be able to face opponents of the same strength. Their career path was dictated by rankings and wins.
Some people gave female gladiators good reputations and respect admiring their beautiful strength. Some were known as beast-hunters who slayed boars and lions. The others thought that these women ignored traditional Roman values. As usually gladiators were from low-class; females were strongly disadvantaged being even lower than men.
Gladiators couldn’t be buried with citizens so they paid regular donations to burial clubs. These clubs ensured that a gladiator will be put to rest in the special cemetery. It seems that female gladiators had separate section. One of the few graves was found outside of ceremonial burials which introduced new information to researchers.
Gladiatrix became a huge inspiration for writers and artists who enjoyed the image of a strong female fighter. In the Renaissance, female gladiators came back to life on paintings in the classic style. Now, you can find comics named Gladiatrix, characters in computer games, films and literature works.