Many parallels exist between the Hunger Games and Roman gladitorial combat. The first, and in my opinion most obvious, one is the fact that both of these events were done with the purpose of entertainment. However much we may deny it, human nature is drawn towards gore and violence in some way. This fascination is why horror movies are so popular, as well as why books such as the Hunger Games become best sellers. Actual live combat to the death is, of course, goes far beyond what the majority of people want to see, yet there was a time in history when this was considered a form of entertainment, and the Hunger Games mirrors that idea of exploiting a natural fascination with gore in order to control the masses. This idea of both the gladiator games, and the Hunger Games "taking it too far" brings me to the next parallel, which is the use of dehumanization. For the Gladiators of Rome, they used prisoners, slaves, and people who had been raised from an early age to fight in the arenas. By doing this, the rulers created a disconnection between the people and the gladiators, stopping the average citizen from feeling despair at the death of a gladiator. Gladiators were also treated as though what they were doing was an honor, or even a privellage, and are lavished with rewards if they succeed. In the case of the Hunger Games, the people picked are also treated as though they've been given an honor by being chosen, as it is a chance to greatly improve their life if they can overcome the other tributes. Tributes are never chosen from Capitial citzens, who are the audience of the Hunger Games, so they seems foreign and different. It is harder for the onlookers to empathize with those who are both forced to act like they're happy about their terrible fate, and who are from a completely different world than the onlookers. In order to keep any time of combat games entertaining instead of gruesome, it is crucial that the rulers create this level of separation, so the violence is viewed as acceptable. Tied in with the dehumanization aspect is the parallel of giving prizes to the winner, which keeps up the feeling of this being a contest which some one might want to participate in. For the gladiators, they could win great sums of money which would allow them many luxuries, and even their freedom from being a gladiator. In the Hunger Games, tributes win money, better housing, and gifts for their entire community.
Looking at all these similarities, a definite connection can be seen between the Roman gladiators and the Hunger Games. By basing the books off of a real historical event, Suzanne Collins really emphasized the violence of human nature, and provided what seemed to be almost a warning about allowing ourselves to lose empathy for other people.