Gladiator: Rome's Bloody Spectacle, Konstantin Nossov

Gladiator: Rome's Bloody Spectacle, Konstantin Nossov

This is an English translation and update of a Russian original, published in St Petersburg in 2005, and since updated to reflect recent research. It focuses on the professional gladiator (both slave and free), the evolution of the games, the types of gladiators and their equipment and styles of fighting, the venues for their games, the difficulties of staging gladiatorial games, and the routine of the day of the games itself.

Just under half of the text looks at the individual gladiators. Nossov begins with an examination of the various types of gladiators, tracing their original appearance and the development of each style over time, before moving on to look at their equipment and their style of fighting. This section makes good use of the archaeological evidence to produce a convincing picture of the gladiators themselves.

The rest of the text looks at the wider picture, beginning with a history of Roman spectacles, from their first appearance as funeral games, through to their Imperial heyday, when hundreds or even thousands of gladiators could take part in an individual event, to their eventually disappearance under pressure from the Christian church and the barbarian invaders who destroyed the western Empire. Nossov then looks at the evolution of the venue for the games, which reached its peak with the Coliseum of Rome, and saw amphitheatres constructed all across the Empire. Finally we move on to look at the games themselves, first the overall organisation of an event, and then a look at the day itself.

This is a well produced and researched piece of work that gives a good picture of the life of one of the Ancient World's most famous characters, and is refreshingly clear of the moralising so common in modern works on the Gladiator.

I The History of Roman Spectacles
II The Types of Gladiators
III The Gladiator's Equipment
IV Methods of Combat
V Amphitheatres
VI Organising the Events
VII The Day of the Show
Conclusion: Craving Blood or Bloody Sport?

Author: Konstantin Nossov
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 208
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2009 translation of 2005 Russian original

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