With the recent popularity of Roman culture in Hollywood movies such as: Ridley Scott’s Gladiator and STARZ cable series Spartacus: a misunderstanding has developed of where mortal combat began as a “spectator sport.” This brutal form of entertainment certainly didn’t begin in Rome, as many would lead to believe. The Roman historian Lily stated its imported from the Achaeans who colonized the Campania region of southern Italy. However, even more ancient historian chronicles its beginnings with the Etruscans.
Looking at preserved Etruscan artifacts, it’s apparent they adopted the Greek alphabet and most of this culture’s art appears borrowed from classic Hellenic culture. No major surprise here, as Greek tribes heavily colonized the Italian peninsula, primarily with the Achaeans beginning in 800 BC.