Gladiator combat "less about bloodshed and more about drama"

Ancient history expert Prof. Garrett Fagan of Pennsylvania State University knows a lot about gladiators and shared some of his knowledge at a 2014 conference. Included in the discussion was his research on Roman gladiatorial combat, more spectacle than blood bath, he found.

From the Davidson (NorthCarolina) News article:

While modern movies and shows like “Gladiator” and “Spartacus” describe gladiatorial combat as nonstop slaughter, Fagan said that the violence was often punctuated by clown performances or comedy. The violence itself was also somewhat artificial, with trumpets playing theme songs for different moments in the bout, and gladiators fighting on stilts or in other costumes.

There were even umpires who stood to intervene between the gladiators if the fight got too heated or if the rules of the arena were not obeyed, much like the referees at a World Wrestling Federation bout.