While there is some dispute as to its veracity, today’s headline is said to be the phrase with which gladiators heralded the emperor before engaging in battle. What is not in dispute, however, is the authenticity accorded to the life and times of the gladiators by Gruppo Storico Romano.
The Scuola Gladiatori Roma – an arm of the Gruppo Storico – teaches you how to fight with the same weapons handled by the gladiators of ancient Rome. Kitted out in sandals, a tunic, and the appropriate armor, you learn how to use the gladius, or typical battlesword. (the word gladiator is itself derived from the word “gladius”.)
But first things first: let’s warm up with a few cigarettes and cups of espresso.
Then it’s on to training. Mixing culture and sport you’re trained by doctores (the gladiators’ trainers) before crossing swords in mock battle, trying the deceptive nets and tridents, and studying the methodology of hits and movements in what is a really intense discipline.
There’s a reason those gladiators were so ripped: this stuff is heavy. The best benefit of a few hours thrusting and sweating in the sun with fifty-plus pounds of armor on your back is the guilt-free amount of pasta you can consume later.
Though I have to confess the Latin geek in me got the biggest rush out of being presented with a certificate granting me the citizenship accorded to a free man of the Roman Empire – the traditional just reward given to a gladiator victorious in battle. Veni, vidi, vici!