Monday, October 01, 2007


I read recently that the sponsors of Roman gladiators were called "editors." I'm not sure I buy that, but it might be true. I haven't been able to confirm it through a second source.

This is from Oxford English Dictionary:

1 a person who is in charge of a newspaper, magazine, or multi-author book.
2 a person who commissions written texts for publication.
3 a person who prepares texts or recorded material for publication or broadcasting.
— DERIVATIVES editorship noun.
— ORIGIN Latin, from "edere" meaning to ‘put out’.

Then, I found this NY Times Article from 1915 that discusses the use of the term in various publications. Interesting.

I want to learn where this word originally comes from.



Ralph said...

From some column I found by Googling "editor gladiator:"

"The editor of a game, whether senator, emperor, or other politico, made the final decisions about the fates of the gladiators in the arena. However, since the games were to curry public favor, the editor had to pay attention to the wishes of the audience. Much of the audience attended such brutal events for the single purpose of witnessing the bravery of a gladiator in the face of death."

DrD said...

Good work. Here's more from

"And now the day was here, and the people had gathered for the spectacle of my punishment. The sponsor [editor] was sitting there piling up favor [i.e., political support] derived from our blood.

"Although no one could know my fortune, my family, my father, because I was separated from my homeland by the sea, among certain spectators nevertheless one thing made me pitiable, that I seem inadequately prepared; there was noise everywhere produced by the equipment of death; here a sword was being sharpened, there someone was heating metal plates, here rods were produced, there whips.

"You would have thought that these men were pirates. The trumpets were blaring with their funereal sound, and the funeral procession was proceeding with the carrying in of the stretchers for the dead before anyone had died…everywhere there were wounds, moans, gore; one could only see danger."

Morgan would fit this role perfectly. I could see him sitting up there, in his big-ass robes, currying favor with his political cronies while sentencing convicts to death.

There you have it: The original meaning of "editor."


Ralph said...

Yes, the whole Roman Empire thing fascinates me. I need to back down to the truthbrary and do some reading on it....