HOW GLADIATORS FOUGHT. The Lidz article explains a lot about the gladiator school and about gladiators. There were about 100 gladiator schools in the Empire. Trained gladiators were valuable and the notion of a fight to the death doesn’t seem to have applied to professionals; about 90% of them survived their fights, unlike gladiators, who almost always died.
The Emperor Commodus, who spent part of his youth in Cornuntum, loved fighting as a gladiator. His fights seem to have been fixed. (Contrary to the movie Gladiator, Commodus did not smother his father, the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius, who died of plague.)
Says Lidz: “Top gladiators were folk heroes with nicknames, fan clubs and adoring groupies.” It’s interesting that Nero and Commodus, who became the most powerful men in the world when they were young, both sought celebrity (Nero, as an actor and singer, and Commodus, as an athlete/gladiator). Evidence perhaps that power is not the same thing as glory.