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"Pre or Non-Roman gladiator or arena fights?" Topic

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Alxbates17 Feb 2017 6:22 p.m. PST

I had a random thought today –

Were there any arenas or gladiatorial(-ish) combats before Rome?

Did any earlier civilizations have prisoners or champions fighting each other or wild animals for sport?

What did that look like? Can anyone recommend any resources?


-Alex in Alaska

d88mm1940 Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 6:38 p.m. PST

The Greeks had their 'Olympics".

thorr666 Inactive Member17 Feb 2017 7:26 p.m. PST


Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 7:28 p.m. PST

Didn't the Romans get it from the Etruscans?

Hey. When it comes to bloodthirsty religion, the Romans can hold their own. While stealing from their betters.

Alxbates17 Feb 2017 7:44 p.m. PST

The trouble I'm running into is with the vocabulary – if it was before Rome, they probably weren't called "Gladiators".

Pit Fighters, maybe?

Personal logo Scott MacPhee Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 7:54 p.m. PST

They grew out of funeral games.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 8:01 p.m. PST

Does Hyboria count?



GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 3:33 a.m. PST

I've a feeling that some of the near-east civilisations (Sumer, Assyria or Babylon ?) used to drive animals into enclosures (Lions ?) and 'hunt' them as a spectator sport of some kind.

Celts did have various forms of ritual combat but I think they were semi-judicial rather than religious or sporting.

The origins of gladiatorial combat are religious and some Roman writers disapproved of their transformation into spectacle.

altfritz18 Feb 2017 2:40 p.m. PST

Manator, which featured a modified form of Jetan. IIRC.

whitejamest18 Feb 2017 5:14 p.m. PST

The Iliad mentions some pretty brutal boxing matches incorporated in funeral games. The competitors swathe their hands in cloth with metal plates incorporated in it. I have to imagine not everyone would survive such an encounter.

jowady19 Feb 2017 11:41 a.m. PST

The Romans themselves largely stated that Gladiatorial Games were started by the Etruscans although Livy gave credit to the Campanians which modern Historians believe as well.

For sources you might try;

Kyle, Donald G. (2007). Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing

Auguet, Roland (1994). Cruelty and Civilization: The Roman Games. New York, New York: Routledge

Kyle, Donald G. (2007). Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing

Futrell, Alison (2006). A Sourcebook on the Roman Games. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing

For starters

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