The end of Gladiatorial fights also followed a procedure. There is debate as to what the actual sign used for signalling a sparing or ending of life. Various authors refer to “premere pollicem” (press the thumb) and “vertere pollicem” (invert the thumb). These are generally accepted to mean an upturned or down-turned thumb but this is very probably an incorrect interpretation. It is likely that “vertere pollicem” actually meant an upturned thumb for death. These could be accompanied by shouts of “Mitte!” (Free him!) or “Iugula!” Kill him! My, that’s Gory stuff!!!!!
The death of the losing Gladiator was ensured by an assistant masked as Apollo or as the Etruscan god of the underworld Charon, who would hit the corpse a blow on the forehead with a symbolic hammer in order to make sure he was not alive. The dead would then be grasped by a hook and pulled out of the Amphitheatre through the Porta Libitina or Libitinaria gate, so named in honour of the Roman goddess of death and corpses.
As well as public cheering and wearing a crown, the victor would often receive a monetary prize possibly presented on a silver dish and in rarer cases be awarded the “Pileus” or “Rudis“. These tokens were equivalent to a granting of a degree of freedom in accordance with the fighter’s status and allow him (or her?) to hang up his weapons for good. In these rare cases, weapons were usually hung as a votive gift in the temple to Hercules, the patron of Gladiators.
After the shows lists of all the Gladiators who had fought were compiled together with the results: Killed, Victor or Freed.