Gladiators were trained warriors who fought in contests to entertain the Romans. They were usually recruited from slaves or prisoners of war. The fighting was very dangerous and often resulted in death. Because of this, reluctant gladiators were forced into the arena with whips or hot irons. The fights pitted different types of gladiators against each other. Three types of gladiators were the samnite, the secutor, and the retiarius. The saminte were very heavily armed. The retiarius used a trident (three-pronged spear) and a net. They would attempt to catch their opponent in the net and then stab them with the trident. The secutor had a specialized helmet and equipment to fight their opponents.
Gladiators trained hard at a school called a Ludus. The cost of gladiator training was high, so they did not always fight to the death as is often displayed in movies and books on the period. When a gladiator was injured or fell, the crowd would decide his fate. If he had fought well, the crowd would raise their thumbs, meaning to let him go. But if the thumb of the crowds would point down or horizontally, it meant to kill him. It was possible for successful gladiators to become rich and famous and after a time they could retire. The most famous gladiator was Spartacus, who led a two year slave revolt against Rome in 73-71 B.C.