Glossary of Terms
Gladiators were men, forced to fight each other in a battle to the death for the 'entertainment' of the Roman crowd. Originally, gladiators were made up of condemned criminals, but later slaves, and prisoners of war, were also conscripted into the arena. Gladiators received their training in places called Ludi, and would do battle in the Colosseum. They fought with weapons such as swords, nets and spears and used shields or armour for protection. The so-called ‘sport' of gladiatorial combat existed from 164 BCE up until 500 CE when it was finally banned throughout the empire. In 2000, the movie Gladiator won best picture for its portrayal of these ancient Roman fighters staring Russell Crowe.
The colosseum was the arena in which gladiators did battle with each other or with imported wild beasts. It was situated in the heart of Rome and was built by Vespasian in 72 CE. The ruins of the colosseum still stands in the modern city of Rome today, and are visited by millions of people from around the world.
The chariot was a small two-wheeled vehicle pulled by horses and used by ancient Romans for transport, battles, races and parades.
The literal meaning of Styx is hate, therefore the river of hate. It was believed that the souls of the dead were transported across this river by the ferryman ‘Charon', to the land of the dead on the opposite side known as ‘Hades'. When a person died, their relatives would place a coin in the dead person's mouth, ensuring that the soul had a coin with which to pay Charon, so that he would take them to the other side of the river. In classical mythology, it was believed that the River Styx circled around hell nine times.
In 126 CE the Emperor Hadrian built a massive circular temple in the heart of Rome known as the Pantheon. This building was a place where Romans could come and worship all the different gods that belonged to their religion. However, temples specific to the worship of one god were often set up so that the penitent could come and make prayers, offerings, seek predictions for the future or blessings from their personal god.
Over time, the Roman faith was integrated with the religion of the ancient Greeks, so much so, that the Roman gods themselves were simply a reflection of their Greek counterparts. After years of this integration with Greek culture, Roman gods differed in name only. For example, the Greek god Zeus was known to the Romans as Jupiter. Other key examples of this religious name-borrowing include: Pluto (Roman) and Dis or Hades (Greek); Cupid (Roman) and Eros (Greek); Neptune (Roman) and Poseidon (Greek); Minerva (Roman) and Athena (Greek).
Mermaids are mythical female creatures that are half-human and half-fish. Similar in nature to the mythical creature the Siren, mermaids were believed to lure sailors into the ocean with their singing and beauty. Some stories tell of a mermaid's golden cap, which when given to a sailor who has jumped overboard, would provide protection from downing. The male equivalent to a mermaid is a merman.
A dowry is an amount of money and goods, paid by a woman's father to her intended husband. It represents a woman's inheritance, which she takes upon marriage instead of at the death of
her parents, which is more typical in our own Western society. In many cultures around the world, this practice still continues in a variety of different forms. In Androcles and the Lion, the
dowry (or bag of gold coins) is an extremely large amount of money and drives the tension of the performance.
The Nightingale is a small brown bird famous for its beautiful sad song. Throughout literary history there are many poems and stories dedicated to the nightingale, including John Keats'
poem Ode to a Nightingale and Oscar Wilde's children's story The Nightingale and the Rose.
Ask students to research one of the terms discussed above via the internet or through library research. Ask the students to form a written report, aural presentation or illustration based on
the information they discover. Can students remember how this relates to the play?