The Gladiator: The Secret History of Rome's Warrior Slaves

The Gladiator: The Secret History of Rome's Warrior Slaves

Alan Baker

Language: English

Pages: 132


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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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the long curve of which stood the platform reserved for the giver of the games and his entourage. THE ULTIMATE BATTLEGROUND The greatest Roman amphitheatre was, of course, the Colosseum, so named because of the colossal statue of Nero that stood nearby. The name ‘Colosseum’, however, was not applied to this building until the Middle Ages; it was originally called the Flavian Amphitheatre, since it was built by members of the Flavian Dynasty (Vespasian, Titus and Domitian). Dedicated in 80 AD by

assignment of special seats to married commoners, to boys not yet come of age, and, close by, to their tutors; and a ban on the wearing of dark cloaks, except in the back rows. Also, whereas men and women had hitherto always sat together, Augustus confined women to the back rows ... the only ones exempt from this rule being the Vestal Virgins, for whom separate accommodation was provided, facing the praetor’s tribunal. In addition to his generally benign attitude towards professional

previously controlled the whole business, the state now took over, and established an incredibly elaborate system. The task of capturing the animals fell to the various legions stationed at the limits of the Empire; indeed, many Roman soldiers were exempted from regular duties so that they might devote themselves full-time to the securing of wild beasts for the amphitheatres. For example, Legion I Minervia, which was quartered near Cologne, occupied itself with the capture of wild bears. There

some of the gladiators and, in ending their lives, palliate his temper. Meanwhile, the venatio was proceeding splendidly. The arenawas awash with blood, the running feet of the venatores kicking up huge gobbets of wet sand as they raced towards their next victim. Their bodies glistened with a pink sheen of blood and sweat, their muscles rippling cords, straining ever harder to continue the slaughter, fatigue now as deadly an enemy as any wild cat or rampaging bull. Their headlong dashes across

that pain, that suffering, was about to be repaid to him a thousandfold. Blinking furiously against the stinging sweat that dripped into his eyes, the brigand snapped his head around frantically. From his inverted position the amphitheatre, with its tier upon tier of rapt faces, the rumble issuing from their lips growing ever greater in intensity, seemed like the very ceiling of the underworld; the wide circle of sky at the centre of the vast awning like the mouth of Death itself. As his eyes

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