by James Moore
The word ‘gladiator’ has taken on a whole new meaning in our day and age. Although once seen as the warrior in the arena, gladiators now come in all shapes and sizes and can be everything from the people who do hard work to save nature, animals, children; to people who stand up and fight for a good cause that helps others.
When it comes to sports, the term is still used a great deal. But when looking back at the true gladiators that came before, it is the combination of courage, loyalty, agility, and never-say-die attitude that placed them above the rest. Perhaps as the year comes to a close, those are the qualities most everyone is looking for in all areas of life. From disappointments in politics to disappointments in people, the beliefs of the ancient world and the gladiators that fought for it, are being more and more missed as the years of technology move us forward…and sometimes, not in a good way.
Yes, back then you are talking about the ultimate sportsman or athlete. Always armed, the gladiator was ready for violent confrontations in the arena against human or animal in order to entertain audiences of the Roman Empire. Some gladiators were from the category of volunteers, whereas others were the despots who had to fight no matter what their views might have been in order to survive.
The whole point of being a gladiator in the Empire’s mind was that the man had to fight and/or die well for the crowds. Either ending would bring to them acclaim and a huge admiration for the risk they took. It is almost beyond difficult to imagine the amount of Twitter followers these gladiators would amass in the 21st Century.
There is some disagreement over when it all began; there are those that say the Roman Empire may have had the most famous, but the gladiators were actually seen far before, back in the third century. This was one athlete that seeped into the human consciousness. In fact, the gladiators became a large part of politics, as well as society in various cultures and worlds. They are the first athletes, as well as the first ‘group’ that brought high moral characteristics into being – the same that our own military people carry in their hearts today.
There were even cultures that produced gladiator schools in order to educate a slice of humanity that could be focused on the ethical way of life – dying for something they either believed in, or fought for until the very end. The earliest known schools seem to be Roman, which was information discovered from frescoes on the walls of various tombs showing the fighters with helmets on and spears in hand.
The honor of the gladiator came from their sacrifices in the arena, as well as on the battlefield in combat conditions. No matter what side you’re on in the debate over these first mega-athletes – whether you see them as exotic and armored warriors, or slaves who were degenerates – the honor of the gladiator has never gone away.
When asking the athletes of today, they will see themselves as gladiators in their own ways. They live to be the honored and admired, and will work hard on a field or in an arena to bring the people entertainment while scoring the points they need to be triumphant. Thankfully, there is no tiger, or lion, or man with a spear waiting on the other side as an opponent anymore. But the heart of the gladiator, the belief that sports is an art form, remains true.
It will be interesting to see in 2014 what gladiators rise from the mist. On the gridiron, what logo will the winner wear: a Seahawk, a panther, a bronco? Will a Tiger once again be the spotlight of the ‘greens’? Will a dynasty that’s brought love to Boston do it again on the diamond?
It should be a whole lot of fun to watch and see!