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Alan Baker weaves an extraordinary, vivid picture of Roman life as his compelling and evocative history tells the story of Rome's most notable gladiators. They were condemned and feared by emperors, slaughtered and adored by the masses and worshipped by their female fans, yet their lives were invariably violently short. Whether their enemy was a starved tiger or a battle-hardened criminal, their numbered days were dark and bloody. Yet men gave up their wealth and freedom to become gladiators and noble-women gave up their positions to be with them. The Gladiator illuminates the extraordinary lives of Spartacus, Commodus, Eppia and others - bringing the same energy and passion to the page that Ridley Scott's cinematic triumph bough to the screen.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780091886547
ISBN-10: 0091886546
Format: Paperback
(199mm x 126mm x 14mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Ebury Press
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Publish Date: 1-Aug-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » Most readers will know of the fierce contests in Roman arenas mainly from films such as Spartacus and, more recently, Gladiator. However, Alan Baker shows that there is considerably more history and culture attached to this fascinating subject than the most well-researched and accurate films can hint at. Baker has thoroughly investigated his subject, drawing on contemporary writers such as Tacitus and Petronius, and he gives authority to his work by quoting extensively and at length from these and other authors. Gladiators were in many ways the lowest of the low in Imperial Rome, among the first to be driven out of the city when food was short. At the same time, they were adored as sporting stars are today. Even Faustina, the wife of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, developed a fixation for one, which was 'cured' by having the gladiator killed so that Faustina could bathe in his blood. Baker describes all aspects of gladiatorial entertainment, including fights against wild beasts and staged sea battles; women gladiators were common, though many, including the poet Juvenal, thought that this was unsuitable. Though we may see the life of a gladiator as cruel and barbarous, Baker points out that the average lifespan of a citizen of Imperial Rome was only 30 years, so becoming a gladiator did at least offer the chance to make a good end, winning favour with the gods. The book is full of fascinating anecdotes, such as the true story of Spartacus (it appears that, in reality, no one did say 'I am Spartacus') and snippets of information such as the unexpected fact that many early Christians enjoyed attending the contests before going to church. It might have benefitted from some pictures, but Baker's writing is so vivid that the reader can easily picture the scenes. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Alan Baker

Alan Baker was born in Birmingham in 1964 and studied English at the University of Reading.

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