Sunday, February 1, 2015

The BBC Made-for-TV Movie, "Colosseum: A Gladiator's Tale"

Today, I write to explore a bit more on the issue of gladiators in ancient Rome.  The work I've selected to discuss is a "docu-drama" produced by the BBC as a broadcast television movie.  The title is "Colosseum: A Gladiator's Story."

Much of what we know in the factual sense concerning the actual conduct of gladiatorial fights in the Colosseum comes from the account of the Roman poet, Martial, and his first-hand account of the fight between Verus and Priscus, held at the behest of Caesar Titus. The rest of what we know is anecdotal in nature, learned through archeological records or theoretical.

This docu-drama attempts to cover the life of Verus, a Balkan captive and slave, who rose from the rock quarries to become the most renown of gladiators.  Of particular interest in this movie is it's depiction of a private gladiatorial fight held at the residence of an aristocrat, for the wealthy and important guests attending a private party. I've included the 4-minute excerpt concerning this fight as a video clip below, at the bottom of this entry.

Verus is made to fight another gladiator for the entertainment of the aristocrat and his guests.  The guests include many Roman women, dressed in bloodthirsty red robes, as well as men.  There is an exchange of attacks with swords and the incursion of mutual superficial wounds.  In the end, Verus gets the best of his opponent, and the honored guest gives the thumbs down.  Verus kills his opponent in front of all the aristocrats and their horny wives, and afterward, the guests all chant his name in honor of his win.

In particular, the fight is witnessed with great interest by the beautiful Imperial Lady, played by the stunning Tunisian actress, Dorra Zarrouk.  Now 35, Dorra was just 23 at the time this film was made in 2003 (released in 2004).  She is a former economist and fashion model, turned actress, whose acting career has now blossomed. In 2012, she was voted the most beautiful woman in Tunisia. Below are some pictures of the lovely Dorra Zarrouk.

Dorra's character plays an active role in searching out the gladiators for the fight at the private party. She joins Titus in traveling to the gladiator school to review candidates, wearing a perpetual smile on her pretty face. When the gladiators are joined to fight at the party, she is front and center, longingly staring at Verus as he is handed his weapon. In part, it is made clear that this fight to the death is for her entertainment, is her personally-made arrangement and has her explicit approval.  In her own way, she wants Verus to know this and makes a show of it, before he is joined in combat.

During the fight, Dorra's character intensely watches the combat but shows no emotion.  She smiles and applauds after Verus has killed his opponent and the guest of honor has raised Verus' hand in victory. The message conveyed is that the wealthy and powerful women of Rome were also sadists, who took lustful sexual pleasure in watching men kill each other.  No doubt, the men of Rome exploited their women's built-up sexual excitement, once they got them back home.

There is a primal, natural connection between violence and sex.  The Romans exploited this connection on a regular basis to make what was a mundane and difficult existence into something more substantial and palatable.  Although society tries to repress this instinct in us, it no doubt lurks in our background and sometimes still comes out to play.  As dark as it may be, it simply cannot be washed away from our nature.



  1. Nice entry.
    Yes it must have been like this in the aristocratic circles in the Roman Empire.
    Warrior virtues were highly prized in the Empire. Like all empires the Romans had risen to pre-eminence in Italy (and later the known world) by being more successful and ruthless at slaughtering their rivals. How ruthless they were can be seen from what they did at Carthage.
    When Rome reached the top of the ''food chain'' however there were genuine fears that the Empire would become more effete and decadent and that they would lose their warrior traits. Hence the need for gladiators - so that they could see and experience the excitement of one on one combat and killing.
    Women have always been curious how men behave in battle - maybe Roman ladies more than most so they would particularly look forward to gladiatorial fights.

  2. something hot about losing like that and being thrust through and destroyed for the amusement and pleasure of hot aristocratic women. i like the fact that gladiators are so expendable.

  3. I agree Steven. I've found the total expendability of gladiators a big turn on. They were considered so much male meat to be slaughtered. There were always replacements to be found - from prisoners of war, galley slaves and slaves working the mines.

  4. I agree Steven. I've found the total expendability of gladiators a big turn on. They were considered so much male meat to be slaughtered. There were always replacements to be found - from prisoners of war, galley slaves and slaves working the mines.

    1. i've always thought it would be hot to be killed by another man in the arena for the pleasure and amusement of a woman. i love those old films where you see beautiful but heartless aristocratic women watching gladiators fight and die. the expressions on their faces are priceless. when i imagine fighting in the arena and imagine those women watching me being put to the sword or dispatched as i lay helpless on the ground...

  5. I agree with you Steven about fighting in the arena in front of aloof sexy Roman ladies. But I would like to be the one to survive and stick it to the other gladiator. That way I would be around to see their smiles and applause at my manly prowess.

  6. Yes Tim there's something in that. I too would like to triumph initially, winning fame and adulation as a gladiator and finding my way into the beds of many of the hottest (and cruelest) ladies in the city. Ultimately, however, I would like to meet my match, an opponent who was bigger and stronger than me and who would eliminate me before the eyes of the very women who had used me for their pleasure. I think it would an erotic way to die, especially hearing those women shouting "Kill him, kill him," as my opponent overwhelmed me. Even hotter if I lay sprawled out on the ground, begging for my life, only to hear a women I had recently slept with order my opponent to finish me off. It's probably a bit weird, but I kind of like it as a fantasy. I find the idea of being expendable and easily replaced a real turn-on.

  7. Yes I know what you mean Steven about being expendable. Its odd but there is an erotic thing involved in that idea. I hate war but whenever there's a huge all-out war and males are conscripted each of those guys going through the army medical must feel like that way - that they (and all the other males there) are so much disposable 'meat' to be wasted on the battlefield. The only priority in war is for 'our side' to win. A lot of military commanders don't seem to worry about how many it takes to achieve that objective!!
    If I was in a situation like that then I would really be envious of women because they are not expected to make the ultimate sacrifice. But such is life I guess..........or should I say such is death!!


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