Examining the Life, Motivations, and Perception of the Auctorati ; Rome’s Volunteer Gladiators
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The Roman gladiator is one of the most iconic and analyzed subsections of people of the ancient Mediterranean world. They have been extensively researched and studied, and still occupy spaces of our contemporary culture to this day. There is, however, a less well-known faction of these arena fighters known as the auctorati. These men distinguished themselves as free Roman citizens who chose to relinquish their titles and social standings to fight in the arena for the chance of significant financial gain, the attainment of glory, or to simply put food on the table. Essentially demoted to the status of slaves while training in a gladiatorial school and fighting in the arena, these men took extreme risks for the slight chance that what they could accomplish in the arena would outweigh the negative social implications that came with the occupation. Using ancient sources from the likes of Cicero, Quintilian, Cyprian, and more, I look to piece together the types of lives these men lived, as well as what drove them to make the decision of volunteering to become a gladiator. I also attempt to examine the public’s perception of these fighters, and how different social classes perceived the choice of free citizens entering the arena as auctorati.