The Truth About Ancient Gladiators | Adam Ruins Everything

The Truth About Ancient Gladiators | Adam Ruins Everything


(people whistling) – [Adam] The coliseum. It was in this vaunted
arena that the masses satisfied their blood lust
as they watched lethal and skilled gladiators fight to the death. (gladiator grunting) As slaves, or prisoners of war, these gladiators were forced into battle and had but one choice, win or die. Sometimes the only hope
of a fallen gladiator lie in the whims of the Roman Emperor. Will this fallen warrior
survive to fight another day? Or, will he be fed to the lions? (crowd cheering) (lions roaring) Actually gladiatorial contests
were way more tame than this. – So whoever told you this
version must have been lyin’. (crowd booing) – [Adam] Oh god no. Puns? – What are you talking about Adam? This was bloodsports. – Nope, in fact, for most
of gladiatorial history, intentionally killing your
opponent was against the rules. That’s why only one in 10
matches ended in a death. – [Man] But I thought gladiatorial
combat was pure mayhem? They actually had rules? – Yup, as well as umpires to enforce them. – Alright gents, how
bout a good clean fight. No head shots from behind, no eye-gouging, and be sure to keep those
genitals well covered. We don’t want anyone losing their bits. Touch weapons, and fight. – And these umpires
were scrupulously fair. In fact, if your opponent
fell by accident, the umpire would stop the
match and let him get up. – [Man] Please, let me help. – Oh you’re too kind. – [Adam] But the most
important rule, no killing. Gladiators were actually trained
to subdue their opponents rather than flat out kill them. – Beware my deadly trident. Which is mostly just for show,
I’m really more of a net guy. – [Man] Wait, if no one dies,
how do we know who wins? – Easy! A match would actually end
when a gladiator was wounded, got too tired or just held
up a finger to tap out. – Oh, ow ow ow. Okay I give up, I give up. (whistle blows) – [Adam] What? But that cuts down on
all the awesome murders and decapitations, why would they do that? Because gladiators were expensive. Many were fed, clothed,
housed, armed and trained by owners called Lanista. – You’re up next kid. I want you float like a
butterfly, sting like a bee and avoid damage like
an uninsured rental car. Go. – [Adam] And it would be
a very poor investment if half of your roster
was killed every match. – Oh God, no! His resale value is ruined! Thanks a lot. – That’s why archeological
evidence suggests gladiators had healthy diets and received quality medical care. Due to all of this, some
gladiators were able to fight in upwards of 40 battles. Similar to a modern day boxer. – And improving his record to 40 and 0, the Butcher from Bataca. – It’s just a stage name folks. I wouldn’t butcher anyone,
I’m a professional. – Alright, maybe the matches
were safer than I thought. But it doesn’t matter
because at any moment the empire could decide to kill them. – Sorry, while on occasion
an emperor or a sponsor would demand a fight to the death, it was rare and generally frowned upon. In fact, Romes first emperor outlawed fights to the death entirely. – I decree this arena death free. (crowd booing) You know how hard it is
to get blood out of sand. – [Man] But the spectators,
didn’t untamed masses thirst for blood? – [Adam] Nope, they were
actually more like fans at a sporting event. – Come on Butcher, let’s go, let’s go. – The truth is, being
a gladiator was a lot like being a modern celebrity athlete. Gladiators portraits graced
the walls of public places, children played with small
clay gladiator dolls. – It’s an action figure. – And the most successful fighters even commercially endorsed products. – On the field you may
know me as The Butcher, but off the field I’m
just a guy who loves fish. And I always get my fish
at Octavius Fish Mongery. There’s no fish like an Octavius fish. (bells ringing)

29 Replies to “The Truth About Ancient Gladiators | Adam Ruins Everything”

  1. Like in today's competitive martial arts people didn't come to the arena to see blood shed and death but to watch a flashy display of fighting skill and weapon prowess.

  2. Everyone who played Swords And Sandals probably knew the no killing rule, considering you can't kill in the arena, only in the death pits.

  3. Western media has manipulated and commercialized everything and made millions out of it twisting history and facts and lying about it

  4. This was before the colosseum and professional gladiatorial fights. It was mainly pow’s, and slaves that fought to the DEATH DEATH.

  5. They were also theatrical. People dressed as their gods would come on to the field and say a few words and then leave or pretend to use some godly power.

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