Ludus Magnus

A Globe and Mail writer attended ‘gladiator school’ … here’s the incipit of a lengthy piece:

I am clad in a scratchy tunic and sandals, wielding a sword that weighs as much as a small child and peering through the visor of a helmet that threatens to smother me under the Hades-hot Roman sun. The mosquitoes are feasting on my ankles, but worse, somewhere out there, in the segment of my vision that is blocked by the helmet, my opponent waits to lunge. Such are the trials of a gladiator wannabe.

I am here, at Ludus Magnus – gladiator school – largely because my 14-year-old son, Ben, and I share a fascination with the ancient Romans. It began when I was looking for a way to get Ben to move beyond his continuing obsession with Harry Potter to some new reading material. I hit upon British writer Conn Iggulden’s four-book series on Julius Caesar. Ben ate it up … and so did I.

Gladiator school was intended to be a more hands-on activity for Ben, to offset the boredom of being forced to view priceless art and ancient stone piles while on a family trip to Rome.

Gladiator school is usually a day-long session, but we’ve talked Giorgio Franchetti, the school’s founder, into doing a special two-hour class for us. The big bluff Italian played at Romans v. Gauls as a kid, sparring with sticks and wooden swords. That interest in the centurions and gladiators of ancient times grew as he got older. He began to follow up on archeological digs, talk to scholars and read everything he could get his hands on about the early fighters.

There seems to be more than one ‘gladiator school’ operating in Rome, but it’s difficult to tell (maybe just the folks in charge are changing) … we reported on one last year and Tony Perrottet attended one the year before that (possibly the same one) … this one is possibly the same too ..

One thought on “Ludus Magnus

  1. The leading authority on gladiators is Marcus Junkelman ( He contributed “Familia Gladiatoria: The Heroes of the Amphitheater” to “Gladiators and Caesars” (2000) edited by Eckart Köhne and Cornelia Ewigleben; and wrote “Das Spiel mit dem Tod: So Kämpften Roms Gladiatoren (2000). He founded the Familia Gladiatoria Pulli Cornicinis, funded by the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier, to re-enact fights – arguably the best in the business.
    He will be at Archäologischer Park Carnuntum for an “Auftritt mit Gladiatoren” from August 22-23.

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