The men weren’t the only ones who fought in the arenas of the Roman amphitheatres. The Romans trained arena fighting also women. They were the so-called gladiatrices, which were largely made up of volunteers. The Senate tried to minimize or forbid them to a minimum or forbid them from fighting in the arena. In 19 CE even the law Tabula Larinas was adopted, which stipulated that it was forbidden to recruit daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters of senators and equites to fight in the arena. The new law resulted from the fact that large numbers of women from well-to-do families joined the fight.
Gladiators had their “golden age” during the reign of Nero, who loved the clashes of women in the arena. For this purpose, he ordered pairs of gladiators to be put up for the games in 55 and 63 CE. Interestingly, at a show in Puetoli, the emperor started the custom of duels between brave and exotic Ethiopian women. Domitian preferred to enjoy gladiatrices in the comfort of his home.
The situation of gladiators deteriorated again during the reign of Septimius Severus at the turn of the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, when further restrictions were introduced for women from wealthy homes, thus trying to close them the way to the profession of gladiatrix.
The question is why such interest of well-born women in competing in the arena, which was often associated with infamy. Scientists say that this was dictated by the desire to test himself in a new role and to face the risk. As it was confirmed on the basis of excavations in Ostia or London, in the Empire, there were many gladiators who were very popular and even popular with the opposite sex.
We know a few gladiators, including one who has fought professionally over the years. An inscription from the 2nd century CE, which can be viewed at the British Museum, shows two female warriors whose duel ended in a draw. Their names were Amazon and Achilia.