Peter Stothard recounts the life of a Roman slave, and what the arena really symbolized:

This was blood sport, but it was also sophisticated theater. An individual gladiator might play many parts in a single season; a successful name, that of a gladiatorial star like Spartacus, might be attached to many players. A well drilled troupe of killer slaves could recreate a sea battle, packed on ships in flooded amphitheaters, or they might show more individual prowess in the face of the death that for Romans was not only a human necessity but a definer of human life. The manner of his death was the making of a manand the slaves who filled the arenas showed all the many ways that the end might come.