Take "a lively, voyeuristic glimpse into the ancient world" of the gladiator (Publishers Weekly).
Condemned and yet feared by emperors, almost certain to be slaughtered and yet adored by the masses, the gladiator was the superstar of his day. His existence was invariably short and violent, improved only faintly by the prospect of honor, wealth, and public attention. Yet men gave up their freedom to become gladiators, noblewomen gave up their positions to elope with them, and Emperors risked death to fight them.
This thrilling popular history of ancient Rome's gladiators charts the evolution of the games; introduces us to the legendary fighters, trainers, and emperors who participated in the violent sport; and re-creates in gripping detail a day at the bloody games. Alan Baker reveals the techniques of the training school, then sets us ringside to witness the torturous battles between bulls, lions, jaguars, and battle-hardened human beings. With each breathtaking scene, the complex culture of world that created and adored these bloody games between man and beast comes into clear focus. A work of history that reads like fiction, The Gladiator brings to life Spartacus, Commodus, Caligula, and all of the other memorable players of the nearly thousand-year-long gladiatorial era.
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Alan Baker is the author of three previous books. He lives in Hove, England.From Publishers Weekly:
In a lurid, sometimes sensational, tabloid-like account of Roman gladiatorial life, British author Baker (Invisible Eagle: The History of Nazi Occultism) offers an encyclopedic examination. While there were a few famous gladiators, such as Spartacus, the majority of these warriors were unnamed slaves, criminals or prisoners of war whose lives were nasty, brutish and short. Baker points out that there were different groups of gladiators, each with its own style of fighting. The Thracians, for example, used a round shield and sword, while the retiarii (net-men) used a net and trident spear. The games themselves were sponsored by the emperor, whose popularity was often secured by the magnitude of the contests he hosted. Using historical accounts of various games, Baker imaginatively re-creates a day at the Coliseum in Rome, which included a series of fights between criminals one armed, the other defenseless staged in a round robin manner until only one criminal was left standing; the victor was then killed unceremoniously by a Roman guard. The afternoon brought on the great battles between the "trained" gladiators, like the Thracians and the retiarii. The blood and dust from one combat had barely cleared before another began. Although they reflected the virtue of killing and facing death with the courage and dignity that dominated the Roman Empire, gladiatorial contests came to an end in the fifth century, when Christianity became the official state religion and when the empire itself was weakening. Baker builds upon an already established wealth of scholarship e.g., Michael Grant's Gladiators (2000) as he offers a lively, voyeuristic glimpse into the ancient world. Fans of the Ridley Scott movie won't be disappointed.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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