Women also competed as gladiators in ancient Rome and there is a marble relief dating to around the 2nd century A.D. depicting a bout between two women dubbed “Amazon” and “Achillia,” whom the inscription says fought to an honorable draw.

10 Things You May Not Know About Roman Gladiators

1. They weren’t always slaves.

Not all gladiators were brought to the arena in chains. While most early combatants were conquered peoples and slaves who had committed crimes, grave inscriptions show that by the 1st century A.D. the demographics had started to change. Lured by the thrill of battle and the roar of the crowds, scores of free men began voluntarily signing contracts with gladiator schools in the hope of winning glory and prize money. These freelance warriors were often desperate men or ex-soldiers skilled in fighting, but some were upper-class patricians, knights and even senators eager to demonstrate their warrior pedigree.

2. Gladiatorial bouts were originally part of funeral ceremonies.

Many ancient chroniclers de… Continue Reading (6 minute read)

12 thoughts on “Women also competed as gladiators in ancient Rome and there is a marble relief dating to around the 2nd century A.D. depicting a bout between two women dubbed “Amazon” and “Achillia,” whom the inscription says fought to an honorable draw.”

  1. MadamBeramode

    Most fights between gladiators were not to the death, much like boxing or MMA fights today. Most gladiators also fought other gladiators from the same fighting school so they generally knew and trained alongside each other.

    Most of the death matches were between criminals or those in extreme disfavor with the emperor.

    Many people entered the arena as gladiators as a path to fame and fortune and many gladiators became famous advertisers, much like athletes on wheaties boxes. There even used to be billboards advertising products by gladiators!

  2. westernlariat

    didn’t know there were draws when they fought in the Coliseum

  3. yahwell

    Funny. I was just about to name my drop shipping empire “Achilia”.

  4. SaltiestRaccoon

    There were many ‘classes’ of gladiator that were used in different competitions, usually in pre-determined matchups against other classes, or sometimes with eachother. Gladiatrixes were one of the most rare, down there with the likes of the Scissores.

    From what’s been gathered, we can glean that Gladiatrix fights were rather unpopular and frowned upon as some kind of side-show, and I’d guess that’s partially due to Roman misogyny.

    To address some other comments here with a huge misconception about Gladiators: Most fights were not to the death. Gladiators were more like professional athletes than the pit-fighters that pop-culture tends to paint them as. It wasn’t uncommon to hold public executions of criminals in the arena and paint them as ‘games,’ but this was something that Gladiators rarely participated in. Many were very popular and widely loved. Some even had sponsorships.

  5. Dagure

    …and they were Romemates.

  6. arachnophilia

    as far as we can tell, based on historical depictions, they fought topless, in armor very similar to male gladiator armor.

    gladiator armor, btw, gets a pass on the “unrealistic fantasy armor” criticism. it wasn’t meant to be practical. it was meant for show and to keep minor wounds from ending the fight prematurely while still allowing for fatalities. basically the opposite of real armor.

  7. serg06

    How dare they write this article without a picture

  8. alloenekochan7


    They actually later named them gladiatrix!

    They were often low level workers or high nobility wishing to fight for fun.

    They were not looked highly upon during the time..

  9. randomguy987654321

    There’s a movie on Amazon Prime Video that has a scene like this in it.

    But it was less “History Channel” and more “Women in Prison”.

  10. RyokoKnight

    I think a lot of the comments are missing the point.

    Draws in gladiator matches (male or female) were common, perhaps even the most likely outcome as many gladiator matches were essentially staged and heavily choreographed.

    For instance if two gladiators were depicting two gods fighting from some famous story they would probably have done a lot of acrobatics, feats of strength and skill to impress the audience. Such a match would essentially never be a blood sport unless someone made a critical mistake.

    Then there were matches which had pre designed outcomes, they might be romanticized versions of previous wars or battles. If two or more gladiators were used there would almost certainly be a preselected victor and loser but they would both more than likely survive the match so long as they delivered a good show.

    Its when gladiators faced common untrained slaves, animals, or when gladiators faced each other without a pre-choreographed ending that outcomes could get very bloody and became much more lethal affairs.

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