Most helpful positive review
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining and informative...
on 22 June 2011
I bought the author's previous book (Legionary, the Roman Soldier's manual) and enjoyed it. This book carries on in the same vein; it's light-hearted, entertaining and full of useful information. It gives you a good understanding of the lives and culture of gladiators in the time of Marcus Aurelius (who died in 180 AD, so it covers same period as the movie Gladiator). The different types of fighter are explained, including those who had to fight wild animals and those sentenced to fight as a punishment for crimes. He covers the organisation of the gladiator schools and how the fighters were supported and trained, the role of gladiators (and ex-gladiators) in society and quite a bit on how likely you are to get killed if you decide to be a gladiator. The whole book is written as a contemporary guide for anyone who might be tempted to have a go in the arena (and quite a few were tempted, including emperors). The photos and plentiful illustrations make this a excellent visual reference.
Although I still don't really know whether the emperor's thumbs-up sign meant kill him or let him go, I now know what the crowd would be shouting and why the emperor might still order an injured man who had fought well to be killed. If you have any interest in Roman culture, this book is well worth buying.