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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-blowing glimpse into the real "Gladiator" story
For several years before "Gladiator" came out I had been swirling in a happy vortex of reading about the mysterious world of Roman entertainments -- chariot races, games, mock sea battles, gladiatorial combat,animal hunting, etc. My fascination ran so deep that I even built a model of a Roman arena in my garage with plastic toy soldiers. But nothing gave me...
Published on 3 April 2001

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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for seekers of blood-fest fun
This is not a Gladiator in terms of entertainment value - although if you're writing a paper on social anthropology it might be some use. A sentence from the Introduction should give you some idea: 'Sophisticated theoretical and symbolic interpretations of the arena in metaphorical, allegorical, or abstract terms take a rather intellectualist, cerebral approach to a...
Published on 30 Aug. 2002 by G. Foster


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-blowing glimpse into the real "Gladiator" story, 3 April 2001
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This review is from: Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome (Approaching the Ancient World) (Paperback)
For several years before "Gladiator" came out I had been swirling in a happy vortex of reading about the mysterious world of Roman entertainments -- chariot races, games, mock sea battles, gladiatorial combat,animal hunting, etc. My fascination ran so deep that I even built a model of a Roman arena in my garage with plastic toy soldiers. But nothing gave me so much to think about as Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome. From its first creepy, unsettling question - What did they do with all the bodies of dead gladiators and victims slaughtered in Rome's entertainment centers? - to its chilling description of the real emperor Commodus, far worse than anything depicted in the movie Gladiator, this book was absolutely riveting. I spent weeks mining the footnotes for clues about the strange attitudes of the ancient Romans to death and combat. This book is an excellent companion for anyone who was fascinated by Gladiator and now wants to know more about this peculiar chapter in history.
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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for seekers of blood-fest fun, 30 Aug. 2002
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This review is from: Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome (Approaching the Ancient World) (Paperback)
This is not a Gladiator in terms of entertainment value - although if you're writing a paper on social anthropology it might be some use. A sentence from the Introduction should give you some idea: 'Sophisticated theoretical and symbolic interpretations of the arena in metaphorical, allegorical, or abstract terms take a rather intellectualist, cerebral approach to a social phenomenon that was primarily visual and atavistic.' Great, but not for the Philistine like me who wants to be entertained with tales of ancient excess.
Kyle is an Associate Professor, and writes like one. He takes the irritating art of the footnote to dizzying heights: almost half the book is footnotes. Footnotes follow, and often exceed in length, each chapter. Ch 3 'The Victims: Differentiation, status and supply.' (not a gripping title: but a fair reflection of its content) 24 pages followed by 25 pages of footnotes - in smaller print - 185 of them! In places there are footnotes at the end of every sentence, some adding an interesting detail, but many just a list of five or six sources where you can read the same thing again.
I should feel guilty slating such an erudite work - but it's not a cheap book and if you're simply following up a layman's interest in the subject there's lots of more informative, accessible and entertaining stuff on the subect to be found free on the internet.
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