Funeral games

Mosaic depicting Gladiator fighting in a funeral game.

Games and executions held at the funeral of Marcus Pelorus.

The games' editor was Gaius Verres.


  • Funeral games were an integral part of Roman society in the Republic. Often, nobles would celebrte the achievements of their ancestors by holding these games and would rent gladiators and other entertainment forms to make these games grand.
  • The first gladiators are said to have come from the ancient tradition of having two slaves fight to the death at their master's funeral, in order to celebrate his wealth in life and to provide him bodyguards/attendants in the afterlife. The practice became so popular that eventually the fights were held at other celebrations, events and parties, and eventually for their own sake in public arenas.
    Etruscan funeral game

    Scene from the Tomb of the Augurs. Tarquinia depicting two fighters and a dog in combat.

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