- The Plate
Dinner With the Gladiators: Beans and Ashes
Gladiators had no legal rights. Romans who voluntarily joined their ranks were made to swear an intimidating oath, renouncing their status as citizens: “I will endure to be burned, to be bound, to be beaten, and to be killed by the sword.”“There is no meaner condition among the people than that of the gladiator,” said Calpurnius Flaccus, a second-century Roman orator.
As a gladiator, your life expectancy was lousy, and your end, when it came, was almost guaranteed to be brutal and bloody. This isn’t to say, though, that there weren’t occasional perks.
A gladiator who survived multiple fights could win fame and freedom, perhaps eventually retiring from the arena with a healthy nest egg, or spending his twilight years as