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Ancient Rome
Gladiators



Gladiators
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.73

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    combats, disfavor, edict, excruciating, forefinger, listless, ludi, shameful, latter, high-ranking, popularity, historical, dagger, afterlife, enrolled, response
     content words:    Emperor Constantine, Emperor Honorius


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Gladiators
By Vickie Chao
  

1     Back in the old days of Rome, people loved to see gladiators fight. Gladiators were professionally trained warriors. Their job was not to defend the nation. Instead, it was to battle against each other in public. To the onlookers, such combats were fun and exciting. But to gladiators, they were not. To them, such combats were excruciating matters. Every time they marched to the center of an arena for a match, they put their lives on the line. If they made one false move, they could easily get injured or worse, face the most horrible outcome of defeat - death!
 
2     Interestingly, though ancient Rome was famous for this brutal form of sport, it did not invent it. The credit should really go to the Etruscans. The Etruscans believed that when an important man died, his spirit needed a human sacrifice to survive the afterlife. To honor the deceased, they would stage a battle at the man's funeral. They would have two gladiators fight until one killed the other. As the loser lay dying on the ground, his listless body became a burial offering.
 
3     The Etruscans ruled Rome for about a century. While it is quite possible that they first brought the custom to Rome during that period, there was no proof that the Romans actually practiced it. Historical records show that the first gladiator fight in Rome occurred in 264 B.C. It was long after the Etruscans were gone. That display was for honoring a man named Brutus. At his funeral, his sons held a contest among three pairs of gladiators. The fight must have gotten a lot of buzz around the town. Slowly, it took root in Rome and became a popular sport. With more and more people watching the game, the scale of it grew bigger over time. It went from the initial three pairs to three hundred, and then to five thousand!

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