Museo Arqueologico Nacional, Madrid

Former slaves and prisoners of war, Roman gladiators were at the bottom of the social ladder, but they were also highly skilled professional warriors. Before entering the arena, most gladiators underwent intensive combat training at gladiatorial schools like the famous Ludus Magnus academy in Rome. There, they were sorted by aptitude and trained in a variety of fighting styles—including the secutore (sword-fighting) style depicted in this fourth-century A.D wall mosaic from Roman Spain.