Thread Rating:
  • 1 Vote(s) - 5 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Books on Gladiators
#16
Quote:A rather old one , but still good is "Gladiators" by the famous historian Michael Grant - covers all aspects ( but alas probably out of print now ) Sad

I just finished reading a reprint by Penguin books from 2000 of the slightly revised 1971 version and I disliked this book totally. In my opinion in a scientific book the author should have a neutral point of view and should not put his own aversions into the writing. But this Michael Grant did, he detests gladiatorial games so much I'm wondering why he wrote about it at all.

Also he mixed it up if he was talking about gladiators or the condemned criminals who had to fight in the arena, for him it's all the same. He tries to put our today's moral upon the Romans but does not make an attempt to see why the Roman thought so differently. This Thomas Wiedemann had done very well in his book "Emperors and Gladiators", he tried to blend out our today's view and tried to find a way to see the whole thing from the Roman side.
Reply
#17
Svenja,I think you are being a little ( well, a lot really! Smile ) harsh on Michael Grant.
His book recounts the facts, and quotes his sources in detail, but rather than debate its merits, I'll let Michael himself reply!

Quote:Also he mixed it up if he was talking about gladiators or the condemned criminals who had to fight in the arena, for him it's all the same
" Most Gladiators, at Rome and elsewhere, were slaves; but in addition there were always some free men who became gladiators because they wanted to.The profession was a refuge for social outcasts. The poet Manilius early in the first century A.D., and Tertullian two centuries later, bear witness that desperate and violent men would take to this career; and so did adventurers made restless by the monotony of the pax romana.............Moreover, as we learn from numerous inscriptions, it was quite customary for retired gladiators to return to the profession. They must have been in considerable demand, since Tiberius had to pay 1000 gold pieces in order to persuade such veterans to make a single appearance."
He then goes on to discuss proportions of freedmen to slaves, from inscriptions, so I don't think he confuses gladiators and condemned criminals.
Quote:He tries to put our today's moral upon the Romans but does not make an attempt to see why the Roman thought so differently.

I don't think that is a fair criticism either, Svenja. He makes it clear that what sounds harsh to modern ears was not so to Romans,for example this when talking of one of Trajan's responses to a question from Pliny about what to do with convicts 'on parole' as it were....
"The Imperial voice of Rome which replied was, as usual, chilling, harshsounding, yet (given the state of contemporary society and thought) not unjust" ( my emphasis)

Quote:he detests gladiatorial games so much I'm wondering why he wrote about it at all.
.....I don't think this is true either...no-one would deny that the games were brutal and horrific, but they must be seen in the context of their time, and Grant does this, for example pointing out;
" As a consolation to those horrifed by the gladiators, it has been suggested that these orgies of cruelty were bound to produce the Christian Gospel of Love to counteract and in the end abolish them.....This is a somewhat two-edged argument....some of the most bloodthirsty holocausts in the arena were perpetrated by Constantine the Great, who made the Empire officially Christian...." - I'd call that fairly neutral.Perhaps it is because he uses the words 'grisly',' murderous' etc to describe combats in the arena that you think he detests the games? Well, they were, and if we should not be too horrified by them (after all, modern action films 'kill' dozens of people in spectacular and grisly ways in slow-motion, and graphic close-up - people's tastes in entertainment don't seem to have changed much, they still like to see blood and gore!!! :oops: :oops: )...then equally we should not 'romanticise' what was a brutal form of entertainment, Grant allows the people of the time to speak for themselves; Petronius' Echion the rag merchant; '...we're going to have a holiday with a three day show that's going to be the best ever - and not just a hack troupe of gladiators but freedmen for the most part..'
Cicero, not liking Caesar's 'modern ' games; "This type of display is apt to seem cruel and brutal to some eyes, and I incline to think it so as now conducted. ( i.e. by professional gladiators) But in the days when it was criminals who crossed swords in the death struggle, there could be no better schooling against pain and death"
...or Seneca, Nero's tutor, who was in the minority in seeing the games as immoral;
" Man is a thing sacred to mankind. But nowadays, he is killed in play, for fun! It was once a sin to teach him how to inflict wounds or receive them. But now he is led out naked and defenceless - and provides a sufficient show by his death" ( he is talking of the lunchtime entre-acts between animals in the morning, and gladiators in the afternoon).

By letting the people of the time speak, I think Grant does a good job of NOT inflicting modern morals on the reader.His work is the best on the subject I know of ( in English). Smile 8)
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
Reply
#18
Paul,

Have you ever read Thomas Wiedemann "Emperors & Gladiators"? That is a far better book when having a look on the sociological aspects of gladiatorial combat.

Especially the last chapter of Grant's book astounded me because there he compared the gladiatorial games even to the holocaust of the Third Reich. Nothing can be compared to the holocaust (maybe that is a very German view). Also he cites in that chapter some modern philosophers whatsoever discussing brutality in humankind in general and it seems to me too far off to compare it to gladiatorial combat.

Also I missed the detailed information where he took the quotes from, he just says Tacitus in his Annals say that and that but does not state the exact paragraph. A better book for quotes on gladiatorial games is the one by Alison Futrell "The Roman Games".

I put the Grant book for sale at amazon.de right after finish reading it because I think I have much better books on that subject on my book shelf.
Reply
#19
Svenja wrote:-
Quote:Especially the last chapter of Grant's book astounded me because there he compared the gladiatorial games even to the holocaust of the Third Reich. Nothing can be compared to the holocaust (maybe that is a very German view)
.....I think you might be right about that! And perhaps germans need to remember that in history, all nations commit genocide/holocausts and it is a sad reflection on our world that the Nazis are not even the most recent, such things continue today. Grant doesn't use the word 'holocaust' in connection with the Nazis/Third Reich....only in connection with Constantine's games that I quoted earlier. :o
I can understand the word having emotive connotations for Germans, but in English, it means no more than 'a burnt offering, a sacrifice, great destruction especially by fire' and a holocaust, used in connection with humans can mean simply a great slaughter, and is a word that certainly applies to the games.The reference to the Nazis in the last chapter is where Grant is pointing out that almost all societies have an outlet for human sadism - e.g. the Spanish have Bull-fighting, a descendant of the bestiary contests, often in the same arenas! ( c.f. my earlier remarks about modern tastes for bloodthirstiness in entertainment). He then is implying that even the vast numbers killed in the arena over the centuries are not unique ...." the Nazis slaughtered human beings on a scale exceeding even the Romans".
Quote:Also I missed the detailed information where he took the quotes from, he just says Tacitus in his Annals say that and that but does not state the exact paragraph. A better book for quotes on gladiatorial games is the one by Alison Futrell "The Roman Games".
...I would agree with you that Grant is not a scholarly work, and does not cite chapter and verse. It is also quite short......but it is a good general/ introductory work, and those who become interested can then go on to more detailed works such as Wiedemann and Futrell....and I can understand how for someone with your knowledge/, wissen, kentnis, it would not suffice, but for a beginner/anfanger, I think it very good and would still recommend it. (please excuse my all-but-non-existent german ! :oops: )
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
Reply
#20
Grant doesn't explicitly write the word "holocaust" but I mean the following passage on p. 105, end of second paragraph from his book about which I stumbled:

Quote:The Spanish taste for excitement and blood finds its outlet in bull-fighting; the Nazis slaughtered human beings on a scale exceeding even that of the Romans.

For me that is a comparison to the Nazi regime and implies that the carnage of humans in the Roman empire (which lasted longer of course as the Third Reich) was nearly as worse as the holocaust of the Nazis and the dead people of WW2. And this cannot be compared in my point of view. They are totally different reasons why the human beings were slaughtered.

In my opinion he has totally overdrawn this last chapter.

Yes, you are right it is an introduction to the topic "Gladiators" but even an introduction should be correct. Due to the age of the book esp. the types of gladiators are mixed up and wrong. There is no good introduction around except for children's book, at least in German the "Was ist Was" book on gladiators is a good one, at least the new revised edition by Marcus Junkelmann. I'm not familiar with English children's books though.
Reply
#21
It is an all too common and remarkably stupid thing in today's society that anything considered socially unacceptable gets compared to the holocaust if done in a group and compared to Hitler if it is a person. Is the world truly getting that soft and out of touch that any minor thing in comparison gets compared to this? It is stupid to compare something like this unless there are direct parallels the situation. Humanity has done, is doing, and will do many things that are distasteful and considered "evil". Most of the time people make such proclamations they have little interest in understanding, looking at the history / information regarding, and do not care how it may effect those who the situation involves past making a good story or more dramatic read. From the excerpts sited I do not see how gladiator games are anything like the holocaust aside from the fact that such violence is not easy for the overcultured, oversheltered modern mind to grasp. What period was the author referring too? Gladiator games covered a long time period and it was not really until the later days where they became a truly bloody spectacle of death that might have any type of comparison to the holocaust even rudimentarily. What were the political / social developments that resulted in this? It seems foolish to draw such comparisons without further parallels. There was a lot of reason for the environment for the Nazi Germany / holocaust situation to develop and thrive and the rest of the world had a lot to do with creating that as well. I'm not going to spend anymore time on this aside from I think the author should be ashamed for making such base comparisons without further elaboration. One should not claim to be a historian and utter such imbecilic comments and should instead take up tabloid writing. Such comparisons should not be made lightly.

BTW: My apologies for commenting on a touchy subject, but this post is more about the author's foolishness in using a controversial subject to sensationalize rather than a discussion about the holocaust which hopefully this doesn't become before it gets moderated.
Derek D. Estabrook
Reply
#22
I just saw that last November there has been a reworked reprint of Junkelmann's gladiator book. Anyone seen this, and are there interesting new things in it?
________________________________________
Jvrjenivs Peregrinvs Magnvs / FEBRVARIVS
A.K.A. Jurjen Draaisma
CORBVLO and Fectio
ALA I BATAVORUM
Reply
#23
Sadly the book as been delayed and is now scheduled "spring 2008".
I have it preordered and will comment once I get it.
Olaf Küppers - Histotainment, Event und Promotion - Germany
Reply
#24
Sorry, just come across this post and thought I'd add my tuppence worth.
The first book I ever read on 'proper' gladiatorial Roman history was 'For Those About To Die.......' by Daniel P. Mannix. My copy is an incredible tatty copy of a Panther paperback edition dating back to the '60's and I won't part with it for anything.
I don't know a thing about the author and I can't vouch for the accuracy of his sources but at the time (late '60's) it really hit me between the eyes with the strength of many of the horrific arena images jumping up from the pages. In retrospect, I suspect it may have been beefed up for a market that was wanting a little more than Hollywood had to offer in 'Ben Hur' ! Also, there is a suspicion that some of the more pastoral (non-violent!) background of the games and the social aspects of the story which would have given a better balance to the book were left out to retain the attention span of the purchasers !
Not having instant access to the book (packed away for a house move) I can't remember whether the P/B was a reprint (and possibly much edited) from an earlier (and more comprehensive) work.
That having said the book still retains all the shocking power that I remember feeling on my first reading - almost as if I had been an unsuspecting member of the crowd visiting the games for the first time. The narrative describes many of the arena set-pieces along with the documented names of some of the participants. There is no pulling of punches here!!!
It may be that this book is not for the serious scholar - but for me it was an unforgettable introduction to the 'real' Roman world outside of the sanitised 'school editions' !

Given that it is such an old book its availability would now be limited to the shelves of second-hand book stores or E-bay!

Regards,

Romanonick/Nick Deacon.
Romanonick/Nick Deacon
Reply
#25
Hi Nick ! Smile
I too have that book, or rather a copy of the twentieth re-print in 1977!
The original was copyright 1958, and first published by Panther in 1960.

It's popularity is accounted for by it's rather lurid sock-it-to-'em style. The author used mostly secondary sources, but also Seutonius, Tacitus, Apuleius, Petronius and The Memoirs of Diocles....the book also contains many salacious tidbits which may also account for it's popularity at a less jaded age than ours....It is written in a semi-fictional style, which makes it easy to read, but much of it's detail must be taken with a grain of salt, but it does make for a good introduction to the subject.... :wink: :wink:
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
Reply
#26
I first read this book in 1960. It was part of a Ballantine series on lurid subjects. In fact, I learned of it because it was advertised on the back of another book in the series, another one by Mannix about Aleister Crowley, the fin-de-siecle occultist. So naturally I went looking for it. I was fascinated by gladiators and the games and could find very little decent material about them. I finally tracked it down in a bookshop in Pasadena, CA. As far as I know, it was the first book in English to have the Games as its exclusive subject.

Mannix was a veteran writer for the "Men's Adventure" magazines of the 50s and wrote countless articles on deep-sea diving, big game hunting, boxing, bullfighting, and other hairy-chested subjects. TATD is an interesting mishmash of scholarship, fiction, and down-and-dirty luridness. Wherever the facts left a gap, Mannix filled it with his feverish imagination. He was also a competent observer. For instance, this was the first place I saw mentioned that the secutor wore a helmet that was smooth and without projections to catch the net. I had always pictured the secutor in a murmillo helmet a la Hollywood. After that I noticed that in every deptiction of a secutor his helmet was, indeed, without projections or angles.

All in all, a fascinating if somewhat dated book.
Pecunia non olet
Reply
#27
The new edition of Junkelmanns "Gladiatoren Das Spiel mit dem Tod" was relesed this month.
I got my preorder last Friday.
Having read the previous edition from a fellow reenactor, I was happy that the new edition contains some updated and some new information, while containing all the info from the previous edition as well.
The knew parts many consist of Junkelmann explaining his theories with a view on other authors of gladiatorical publications, a short discusson in the findings at Ephesos, a small chapter on Gladiatorial Reenactment and a short pragraph on Gladiators depicted in Documentaries and TV Series since the last edition.
There seem to be very few new finds considering armaturae but he does discuss the 4 pronged stabbing weapon that has left its mark on some of the dead in Ephesos and a trident from London, that can be considered gladiatorial because of its very distinct shape.

The book should appeal as a great refference- with an abundance of pictures - to those that do not already own the previous edition.
But those that already own the previous edition should have a look at the new parts before considering if its worth owning both editions.
Olaf Küppers - Histotainment, Event und Promotion - Germany
Reply
#28
Quote:The new edition of Junkelmanns "Gladiatoren Das Spiel mit dem Tod" was relesed this month.
....

Ave Olaf,
could I ask you if you know if this new edition is in english language also or only in german? I can understand English but German it's not for me....
Eventually could you help me to find a copy of the book? It's a long time I'm looking for this book but Parma is a small italian city and it's not easy find this kind of publications. English language, please.

Thank you very much/Gratias tibi

Vale
Claudio Casti/Titus Claudius Cincinnatus


<a class="postlink" href="http://www.legio-i-italica.it/ita/default.htm">http://www.legio-i-italica.it/ita/default.htm

<a class="postlink" href="http://www.mansiotempli.net/pagina_principale.htm">http://www.mansiotempli.net/pagina_principale.htm

<a class="postlink" href="http://tituscincinnatus.deviantart.com/">http://tituscincinnatus.deviantart.com/
Reply
#29
Sadly I have to disappoint you.
The only Edition known to me is the German language one from the Zabern Verlag:
http://www.zabern.de/controller.php?cmd ... 7&verlag=5

As the old edition was never translated I guess the new one wont be, either.
Olaf Küppers - Histotainment, Event und Promotion - Germany
Reply
#30
Ach! Too bad! :evil:
Well, I've to wait for other pubblications.....
I ask you just another advise: I'm looking for a book with a lot of pictures (photos, drawings, and so on), do you think it's worth the expense also if it's a german edition? In this case I could ponderate to buy....

By the way, did you attend in Kalkriese last year? I think I saw your group in the "arena". I was there with my group, too.

Vale
Claudio Casti/Titus Claudius Cincinnatus


<a class="postlink" href="http://www.legio-i-italica.it/ita/default.htm">http://www.legio-i-italica.it/ita/default.htm

<a class="postlink" href="http://www.mansiotempli.net/pagina_principale.htm">http://www.mansiotempli.net/pagina_principale.htm

<a class="postlink" href="http://tituscincinnatus.deviantart.com/">http://tituscincinnatus.deviantart.com/
Reply


Forum Jump: