The Romans In LondonLondon Grid for Learning

Gladiators were seen again in Guildhall Yard, City of London in July 2011. The shows by re-enactment group, Britannia, were staged for the Museum of London to celebrate the City of London's Roman past. The remains of the Roman amphitheatre lie below the Guildhall Art Gallery and, in Guildhall Yard itself, the position of the arena is marked out, making it an ideal place to stage the shows. The buildings that are now there are sitting on where the seating of the amphitheatre would have been.

A sanded arena was set up to allow the fighting to take place and two teams of gladiators battled it out. One team represented Londinium (Roman London) and the other, another major Roman town, Camulodunum (Roman Colchester). When asked whether they wanted the fallen gladiator spared or not, the audience were shown how to raise their hands up as fists but with the thumb stuck out sideways and to shout 'iugula' – 'Kill him!' when they wanted the gladiator to be condemned. It is often thought that is where the thumbs-up and thumbs-down sign came from. If they wanted the gladiator saved, they would wave their hands and shout 'Mitte' – 'Spare him!'. Although the audiences enjoyed these modern shows and shouted their support for their gladiators, it must be remembered that this was staged to be entertaining and did not involve any real injuries. The actual shows would have been very different.

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