The World of the Gladiator Paperback – 30 Sep 2002
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About the Author
Susanna Shadrake is a writer, researcher and consultant to TV and film companies, advising on all aspects of gladiatorial life. She is co-founder and secretary of Britannia, a re-enactment society providing shows for English Heritage, the BBC, Museum of London and the National Trust. She is the author of 'Barbarian Warriors'. She lives in Basildon, Essex.
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Top Customer Reviews
Starting with the origins of the gladiatorial fights at the funeral of prominent men, she follows the development of the 'sport' right into the Empire, detailing the training, the equipment, the classes of fighters and so on. She uses historical reference at all times, as well as making interesting comparisons to modern life. There are plentiful illustrations and excellent colour photos of gladiator reenactors, and a great section detailing the whole spectacle of a fight.
For anyone who's interested in gladiators, this book is a "must-buy". Top class stuff.
Ben Kane, author of Spartacus: The Gladiator.
Through a fresh and honest look at the origins of the games (even before the birth of the Roman Republic), through their zenith in the high Empire, to their conclusion, modern legacy and contemporary re-constructions, she points out with great clarity that these violent spectacles, or indeed the fascination with them has never really left us!
This is a must for anyone interested in the transition from republic to Empire, and how the games mirrored Rome's fortunes, failures and indeed its very identity.
If you liked Robin Lane Fox's Classical World or Boris Johnson's Dream of Rome, you'll certainly like this.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Because gladiators, especially at first, were drawn from the condemned, Romans looked down upon them as a class. "It was a social stigma to be an actor, as it was to be a gladiator; no decent person would wish to perform in public, whether in the scaena or the arena, as it would expose them to contempt and derision. Strangely, the charioteer was exempted from this social leprosy. For this reason, most performers in Rome were outsiders, foreigners, or slaves; anything but Roman citizens" (p 31). Later some debt ridden, desperate Roman men did volunteer to be gladiators, however.
The arena was drenched with blood. Gladiators did not always fight to the death--their lives were considered too valuable to be thrown away cheaply, but the arena saw plenty of death every day. Elephants were trained to crush condemned men underfoot "Christian noxii were a common sight in the area" (p 29), dragged there to be slaughtered.
The book is rich in interesting anecdotes, such as the fact that the emperor Valentinian kept his favorite man-eating bears in cages right outside his bedroom. Must have made for happy dreams.
The book has plenty of pictures, also, some in color.