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This is described as a munus (plural: munera), a commemorative duty owed the manes of a dead ancestor by his descendants.The development of the munus and its gladiator types was most strongly influenced by Samnium's support for Hannibal and the subsequent punitive expeditions against the Samnites by Rome and her Campanian allies; the earliest and most frequently mentioned type was the Samnite.The origin of gladiatorial combat is open to debate.There is evidence of it in funeral rites during the Punic Wars of the 3rd century BC, and thereafter it rapidly became an essential feature of politics and social life in the Roman world.In 105 BC, the ruling consuls offered Rome its first taste of state-sponsored "barbarian combat" demonstrated by gladiators from Capua, as part of a training program for the military. Gladiator games offered their sponsors extravagantly expensive but effective opportunities for self-promotion, and gave their clients and potential voters exciting entertainment at little or no cost to themselves.Gladiators became big business for trainers and owners, for politicians on the make and those who had reached the top and wished to stay there.Their Campanian allies stage a dinner entertainment using gladiators who may not be Samnites, but play the Samnite role.

Compared to these images, supporting evidence from Etruscan tomb-paintings is tentative and late.Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their lives and their legal and social standing by appearing in the arena.Most were despised as slaves, schooled under harsh conditions, socially marginalized, and segregated even in death.There were two corps: the shields of the one were inlaid with gold, of the other with silver ...The Romans had already heard of these splendid accoutrements, but their generals had taught them that a soldier should be rough to look on, not adorned with gold and silver but putting his trust in iron and in courage ...

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