Aspendos Gladiator School Closed!

From Hurriyet:

The closure of a “gladiator school” in the Mediterranean province of Antalya has forced would-be combatants to fight for jobs in other professions.

The Aspendos Gladiator School, where Roman-era gladiator fights were re-enacted, did not open its doors this tourism season due to concerns over low interest. The silence in the 800-capacity arena, built near the ancient theater of Aspendos, forced the performers portraying the gladiators, who were mostly from villages nearby, to seek jobs elsewhere.

Many of the performers who were once engaged in sword fights and re-enacted execution scenes, now work as waiters in hotels and restaurants in the region.

The Aspendos Gladiator School hosted its first “gladiator fight” one year ago on a stage transformed to resemble a Roman-era arena for the performance. However, organizers of the event were disappointed with the paltry audience and the limited interest in the performance.
The Aspendos Gladiator School Consultant Mehmet Bıcıoğlu expected to see interest increase in subsequent performances. “We plan to continue the performances for the next five years. This is a unique undertaking in the world,” he said at the time.

Gladiator fights were typically staged between slaves, or slaves and ferocious animals, as a form of entertainment in the Roman era. The dramatized fights in Aspendos were presented with hand-made clothes and weapons.

[insert quip about making sure you tip well here]

Our previous coverage:

… and here are a couple vids of the action … vocalizations appear to be a required course:

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Gladiating Returns to Aspendos

From Hurriyet:

Roman era blood sports – or at least a mock dramatization thereof – will return to an ancient arena in the southern province of Antalya tomorrow thanks to an initiative to stage gladiator fights for tourists.

“The performances will start at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays,” Mehmet Bıcıoğlu, a consultant for the Aspendos Gladiator Arena, recently told Anatolia news agency. “Performed by a group of 80 people, the gladiator fights will be accompanied by Gregorian music, and dance performances will also be presented.”

Gladiator fights were typically staged between slaves, or slaves and ferocious animals, as a form of entertainment in the Roman era. The dramatized fights in Aspendos will be presented with hand-made clothes and weapons before audiences of up to 800 people, Bıcıoğlu said, adding that the arena for the battles has been completed.

Bıcıoğlu said his group would be presenting a type of event that has never been seen in modern Turkey. “I think our organization [will] contribute greatly to cultural tourism in Antalya,” he said.

The group is planning to perform until the end of November, Bıcıoğlu said, adding that tickets for the first performance tomorrow will cost 25 Turkish Liras.

The 12 performers who are set to portray gladiators have been engaged in rigorous training ahead of the first performance, while organizers are working to make the hand-made clothes and weapons, as wells as the sword fights and execution scenes, resemble the original spectacle as closely as possible.

The performers who will act in the swordfight scenes are also training hard to ensure they will not harm each other.

“Our practices are going very well; we would like to see many spectators here,” said İbrahim Caner, one of the gladiators.

This one’s a bit confusing; Aspendos does have one of the best preserved theatres in the area but (as the Wikipedia article on Aspendos notes) it hasn’t been used for performances for a while. They did build something called the ‘Aspendos Arena’ nearby … can we assume that’s where the fighting will take place? I’m still trying to wrap my head around gladiators fighting to ‘Gregorian music’, but it probably doesn’t mean what I think it is.

Carlos Pena: Gladiator?

I’ll admit I’m not a major baseball fan, but this one seems worthy of some rc love. This story actually broke last week but I searched in vain for a photo … here’s the incipit of a piece in the Tampa Bay Times:

The scary-looking, metal, medieval-style helmet mask that sits in Carlos Peña’s locker — and occasionally on his head and those of his teammates — seems a bit out of place, even in the frat house known as the Rays clubhouse. • But only till the Rays first baseman explains his fanaticism for the movie Gladiator, from which it came.

Peña figures he has seen the 2000 film starring Russell Crowe more than 100 times, considering it not only “the best movie ever made” and “a piece of art,” but something of a guiding force and its catchphrase, “Strength and Honor,” a motto.

“Obviously, I think it’s a great story line, and in some ways, I feel like I can identify with it,” Peña said. “It’s a story of a man who overcomes a lot of obstacles and who’s totally committed to doing the right thing. It’s very inspiring. I think it’s very uplifting. So many times I watch it and I can’t help but feel stronger, better, kind of fueled by it.”

So sitting with new teammate Luke Scott in front of the big-screen TV in the clubhouse in Toronto a couple of weeks ago with some time to kill before a game, Peña suggested they put on Gladiator.

“Luke goes, ‘Dude, that movie is the best.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, it is. It’s awesome,’ ” Peña relayed. “So we got to talking about it and joking. And now every time I see him, I’m like, ‘Strength and Honor,’ and he laughs. And we do it over and over again.”

Peña has seen the movie enough to spot mistakes. But for some reason this time, he was fixated on the helmet Crowe’s character, Maximus, wore.

“I see Maximus get on his horse, and he puts his sword up and he has this mask,” Peña said. “And I’m like, ‘Dude, that mask is ridiculous. That mask is unbelievable. Look at this. Where can we get one of these?’

“And I’m thinking ahead: How cool would it be to have one of these in the clubhouse? We’ve got to have it.” […]

… and of course, we need a photo:

via the Tampa Bay Times

… might make me watch baseball if they wore that sort of thing … and had some sort of violent body contact to go along with it.