Top 10 Interesting Facts About Roman Gladiators

Gladiators didn’t always fight to the death: Aside from prisoners and criminals who were sentenced to death and forced to fight as gladiators, most gladiators didn't fight to the death.

Gladiators weren’t always enslaved:  Some former soldiers in debt would also join in hopes of paying their debt and making money for the future.

Women also fought as gladiators:  These women were pitted against one another as well as male gladiators and even against animals or dwarfs, the latter being more of a comedy act.

Gladiatorial bouts were originally part of funeral ceremonies: During the funeral of a wealthy Roman, slaves and prisoners of war had to fight.

Gladiators often became celebrities and sex symbols: Gladiator sweat on the other hand was mixed into perfume and was believed to be an aphrodisiac.

Gladiators could win their freedom: A gladiator who won several fights, served an indefinite period of time or payed for it were offered their freedom.

Gladiators occasionally fought in staged naval battles: The bottom of the ships were made flat to ensure they wouldn't get stuck as the water was only around 5ft deep.

Some gladiators formed trade unions: . They would also make sure their deceased comrade would receive a proper burial.

Gladiators were divided in different classes and types:  They were armed with a long rectangular shield (scutum), a plumed helmet, a short sword, and probably a greave on his left leg.

Gladiators fighting against animals was rare: Tangling with wild beasts was reserved for the "venatores" and "bestiarii," special classes of warrior who squared off against everything from deer.