In ancient Rome, gladiators were people who fought in an arena. They fought animals, criminals, and even other gladiators there. Although most gladiators had a low status in Roman society, a few of them became famous. Gladiators came from various places. Many of them were prisoners who were captured in wars. Some of them were criminals. Others were volunteers who wanted to become gladiators. All of them served a master, who controlled when and where they would fight.
Occasionally, Rome would hold the Gladiator Games. These were much like a modern sporting event. They were advertised on billboards throughout the city. At the arena, spectators could buy food and drink. There was often music and prizes. These games would often start with gladiators fighting dangerous animals. After that, they would fight each other with weapons like spears or swords.
A gladiator could win the match by injuring his opponent. The spectators then decided if the losing gladiator should be killed. Quite often, the crowd spared the life of the losing gladiator and both men lived to fight again. Winners received money and awards. If a gladiator fought particularly well, the head of the games would reward him with his freedom. The gladiator would no longer need to serve his master and could fight for himself or quit altogether and live a normal life.
The battle between Priscus and Verus is one example of an incredible gladiator fight. The two gladiators fought each other for several hours. They fought well but became exhausted. Out of respect for each other, they put their swords on the ground. The spectators cheered wildly. The emperor awarded both men their freedom.