What's a modern day gladiator look like?

Tonight some guys are coming over to watch Gladiator with me in the barn.  Got the projector and surround sound hooked up and cranked up already, and will soon be moving the grill out there as well. Can’t wait. This whole weekend, in fact, is a bit chock full of “can’t wait” moments. And, looking back, it’s been full of “can’t wait to share” moments, particularly things I’ve been able to share with my wife.

It got me thinking, what’s a gladiator look like today? I checke out WikiPedia’s first couple paragraphs, just for something to think about:

A gladiator (Latin: gladiator, “swordsman”, from gladius, “sword”) was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their legal and social standing and their lives by appearing in the arena. Most were despised as slaves, schooled under harsh conditions, socially marginalized, and segregated even in death.

Irrespective of their origin, gladiators offered audiences an example of Rome’s martial ethics and, in fighting or dying well, they could inspire admiration and popular acclaim. They were celebrated in high and low art, and their value as entertainers was commemorated in precious and commonplace objects throughout the Roman world.

An armed combatant who entertained… violent confrontations… volunteers… despised as slaves… marginalized… segregated… inspire admiration and popular acclaim… celebrated… commemorated.

That’s quite a variety of terms. From despised to celebrated, these warriors seemed to represent something to those who watched them, or worked with them, or beat them. I wonder what it is that draws some of us men into films like the one Russell Crowe starred in, or into risky adventures in general, or untimely heros.

I suppose that’s part of what we might be exploring tonight. Who knows. It makes me ask myself, though, “Do I enjoy watching gladiators, or do I want to BE one?” In my own little world of family, clients, computers, farms, church, and friends… is there a battle to fight that MATTERS? One that could kill me? One that I could be proven as a hero in?

I want that. And I think I have it, when I take a look around.

S.D.G.

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