THE LIFE OF AN AUCTORATUS, A VOLUNTEER GLADIATOR
In THE DEADLIEST SPORT, Binyamin tells Miriam about his life as a volunteer gladiator. But Miriam is not convinced the life is so glorious:
Look Sis, I know you don’t approve of a gladiator’s life, but it isn’t so bad. Really it’s not. For someone trained like me, an auctoratus—I’m not talking about the others, the slaves, prisoners of war, and criminals who are just thrown into the arena—I risk life and limb only two or three times a year. In exchange, during my first term I got food, shelter, clothing, the best medical care, and 2000 sesterces for each bout, more whenever I won, which was often.
Hey, a legionnaire earns only 900 for a whole year, and he still has to pay for his upkeep. Anyway, now that I’m in my second term, I get 12,000 for each bout. I don’t have to be billeted at the ludus (the gladiator school)—I can come and go as I please—but, of course, I have to pay my own expenses. The real attraction for me, though, is living on the edge and having the chance to earn a place of honor in society.
Maybe among the vulgar but not among the people I know.
You’re dwelling on the slaughter, but people are used to that. They come for the showmanship. By accepting his death as a foregone conclusion, the gladiator lets go of all fear and fights with the determination of the desperate. That’s when his skill and perseverance, his strength and courage earn him glory.
No, Binyamin, you’re not earning glory. You’re cheapening human life.
And so, the lines of conflict between a brother and sister are drawn. THE DEADLIEST SPORT is about the gladiatorial arena, but i