LUDUS MAGNUS IN THE GREAT ARENA
April 28, 2002
The New Jersey "Gladiators" Arena Football Team invited Legion XXIV and the Ludus Magnus Gladiator contingent to perform for the crowds during its game on Sunday, April 28, 2002 in the Continental Airlines Arena in the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Here, the Ludus Magnus celebrates with the team Mascot "Gladius" after the game, in which the "NJ Gladiators" won a hard fought 45 to 44 victory. Left to right are: Urbico "City Boy" (Peter Santamaria), Lupus Brittanicus the "Wolf of Briton" (Mike Cattelier), Gallio Velius Marsallas (George Metz), N.J. Gladiators Mascot "Gladius" and Palus Primus (John Ebel).
Photo opportunities at the Five Yard Line, after the Game.
LEGION XXIV and LUDUS MAGNUS in the GREAT ARENA !
The Ludus Magnus Gladiatore, the Great School of the Gladiator, received inquiries from the New Jersey "Gladiators" Arena Football Team to provide atmosphere and entertainment during one or more of its games. Noble Senator Marcus Audens, our school Lanista and General Casca of Legio VI forwarded these inquiries to John Ebel, Maximus Mercurius Gladius, the Palus Primus and Chief Training Officer. The "Gladiators" Operations Department were skilled and formidable traders. After much discussion and protracted negotiations, in which the "humble" Palus Primus shrewdly negotiated with the cunning of an Arab trader; a price was agreed upon and the commitment of the School was given to appear at the Team's Home Opener Game on Sunday, April 28, 2755 AUC (2002) at the Great Continental Airlines Arena in the Meadowlands Sports Complex.
We were engaged to appear fully armored and prepared to interact with the "mob", guests and fans of the N.J. Gladiators and to stage fights and performances at designated time intervals during the game. In addition to our Palus Primus "Maximus", Michael Cattelier and his wife, Paula; joined with our newest recruit Peter Santamaria and his wife Cathy, who was also assisted by a friend to attend to the video documentation of the event. Mike, as always, was eager and enthusiastic to attain his persona as the fierce Lupus Brittanicus (Wolf of Briton), fighting in the "ordinary" style as an "Ordinnaire", clad in wolf skins and the hides of unfortunate creatures indigenous to his brute homeland and sported a round parma, bearing a menacing visage of Medusa - a sight bound to chill to the very bone with fear his most determined opponent!
"Maximus" chose to fight in the "Thracian" style, using a brass griffin-crested helmet, leather greaves ornamented with lion's heads, leather cingulum belt with ornate brass studs and waist clincher belt. He also utilized his smaller squared scutum "parma" style shield in green with matching tunic decirtaed in gold-braid trim, befitting his status of a top-ranked gladiator. The Roman Champion's sword arm was protected by a lion's head ornamented black leather arm guard with leather hand wraps - A very intimidating sight indeed!
Peter Santamaria appeared as "Urbico" The City Boy from Florence; which was his actual hometown in Italy! He was to fight in the light-fighter variation as "Thraex" with round leather clad parma, curved "sica" sword and no greaves; but with heavy arm padding and shoulder guards. A tall crested Thracian III brass helmet completed his attire for his debut at so auspicious an event. Your Commander, in the usual lorica segmentata, crested Italic-D helmet, caligae and Maintz gladius, took the position of seeing that the combatants performed in a manner that would render due credit to Rome and the "games".
Upon our arrival at the complex, we were all struck by the sheer immensity of the Arena and its resemblance and configuration, albeit modern in form, to the Great Flavian Amphitheater, the Colosseum in Rome!! We were conducted to the lower dressing chambers in the bowels of the Great Arena and after being properly attired we proceeded to the floor of the Arena to rehearse. We did not need to be reminded, that here we stood, prepared to engage on the floor of an edifice which traced its roots directly back to Mother Roma and to every other great amphitheater, Provincial, or in the Capitol of Rome itself. After a proper rehearsal we proceeded to the entrance plaza to greet the fans, hustle tourists out of their few meager sescertes on "side bets" and to generally heckle and entertain the mob as they flowed in. Instruction in proper stance and swordmanship was, as always, given to young and eager gladiatorial recruits accompanied by their parents, who struck away with promising skill and commendable enthusiasm.
At 2:30 PM, we were ushered to one of the entrance tunnels to await our cue. The excitement built to a fevered pitch as we made last minute preparations for the Opening Procession. We savored the moment, cognizant of the heat and dull roar of the waiting crowds. There we were, members of the Ludus Magnus Gladiatore, waiting to enter the Great Arena to entertain the thundering mob! The cue came and we entered onto the floor of the Arena, along with the "Team's" "Gladiator Girls" Dance Troupe, to form a gauntlet with raised swords as the New Jersey Gladiators Team players were introduced to the screaming fans. Our minds flashed back to 87 AD and the Great Flavian Amphitheater in Rome. It was as if the Press Box was the Emperor's Gallery and the entrance tunnel had been the Porta Sanvivaria, "Gates of Life" through which our predecessors had entered feeling great anticipation and excitement. After the opening ceremonials, we turned, quit the floor and prepared for the half-time fight.
At the half-time, the Champion of Rome, engaged the Wolf of Briton. The action was quick, while both fighters cautiously circled each other, punctuated by fast and savage exchanges of thrust and parry combinations with a violent clashing of shields. After about one minute of exchange, the 'Wolf" struck decisively with a quick and telling thrust into the left side of the Champion wounding "Maximus" grievously. The crowd went wild! Foolishly, the Wolf paraded around the Arena, playing to the mob and strutting his manhood in front of the "Gladiator Girls". As the referee approached Maximus to see if he had been done in - "Habet !" "He's had it !" - the Champion brushed the "ref" aside, recovered to re-engage and motioned contemptuously to the Wolf, who with a guttural roar, ran full-bore at Maximus, swinging his gladius overhead in a great and massive blow contemplated to finish the Champion. Maximus, with a lightning fast leg sweep, knocked the barbarian to the ground, disarming him. The still undefeated Champion of Rome held the point of his gladius to the neck of the vanquished barbarian challenger. The Champion elected to invoke his right to grant clemency - "Missus" "Spared" to the Wolf and the engagement was over amidst the roar of the crowd. Due to last minute changes in the schedule, Urbico was denied the opportunity to face the Champion of Rome. This only intensified his lust to engage Maximus in the future!
Arena football is, at best, an exercise in "controlled chaos", with a much faster pacing than NFL football with uncertain time slots. It is played on a 50 yard long and half-width field. The rules of play are similar to NFL and at first appearance, would seem to be an "excuse" for real football. Such was not the case. The game was as exciting as any full field contest and the final minutes of play were as thrilling as a Super Bowl Game, with missed field goals by each team and a final interception by the Gladiators on their 2 yard line with 3 seconds "to go", to hold onto and clinch a final 45 to 44 victory over the team from Dallas Texas.
After the game, our members remained on the arena floor, chatting with the mob and posing for photo opportunities. Needless to say, this was a great thrill to the men of the Ludus Magnus. The "after-glow" generated by this event was distinct and palpable. Aside from being the largest crowd the "Ludus" has played to, and accentuated by the obvious similarities between this modern Great Arena and those of Ancient Rome, the pride and camaraderie reinforced by our Member's participation in this event was most apparent; especially considering that our School is not yet one year old!
The "Gladiator's" management was pleased with our performance and it is expected that the Ludus Magnus of Legion XXIV will be invited to return to excite the crowds in the Great Arena of the Meadowlands.
more to come - watch this space !!!