Fighting to death – munera – come from a sacrifice in honor of the dead and have an Etruscan pedigree. At first gladiatorial fights were arranged by the family on the grave of deceased ancestors. The first games enriched with gladiators at the expense of the state were to take place in 105 BCE.
At the time of Augustus, munus meant “a sacrificial gift for fulfilling duty” and “honor due to manes”.
J. Carcopino, Widowiska, p. 200
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