Slaves, criminals, and prisoners of war could often receive a death sentence in ancient Rome (translated from Latin as “condemned to death”), popular methods of execution where through the gladiatorial games.

  • Damnati ad gladium – wherein the condemned was sent to by killed by other condemned or by trained gladiators.
  • Damnati ad bestias – wherein the condemned were sent against the likes of lions, tigers, and bears (Oh my!). They could either be sent in unarmed or prepared to fight.
  • Damnati ad ludos – wherein the condemned was sentenced to a gladiatorial “school”. Arguably a better sentence, the condemned served as a slave. They were housed, fed, cared for to an extent, and trained to be a gladiator themselves. This way they could potentially live, earn some money, and earn their freedom if they survived long enough.

Hey, at least it ain't crucifixion.

I have seen it spelled “damnatio”, but most sources leave off the “o”.