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The Roman gladiators between a life and death

by Vladimir A. Goroncharovskiy

A study of gladiatorial games is very important to understand a phenomenon of the ancient Roman civilization proper. Specific local conditions caused a serious transformation of the funeral combat tradition to the powerful instrument of influencing the people. Details of this process one can reconstruct through written sources, both narrative and epigraphic, as well as archaeological materials (Chapter 1: «At the beginning of gladiatorial games», and Chapter 2: «Pleasure by valour and death: the evolution of gladiatorial games into professionally organized shows»). Chapter 3 («On a way to arena») is devoted to a problem of the training for gladiators’ craft, which was at its initial stage like the preparations of soldiers in the Roman army. Chapter 4 («Types of gladiators and their arms») analyzes the definition for basic differences of each gladiator’s type (raetiarius, secutor, hoplomach, thraecs, mirmillon, provocator, equitus, etc.). Besides there is a study of archaeological finds of gladiatorial offensive and defensive weapons and their specifics. Chapter 5 («Gladiators on “land” and “sea”: Roman


amphitheaters and naumachias») examines the development of specific forms of amphitheaters as architectural buildings intended for blood shows, particularly the Colosseum as the most outstanding construction of such a type. Chapter 6 («Heroes of arena in the service of Roman politicians») deals with various examples of the short- and long-term use of gladiators in the inner political struggle and for the war actions as well.

In Chapter 7 («Spartacian war and other revolts of gladiators») the author attempts to consider all the available data concerning the Spartacian revolt 73—71 B.C. from the point of view of both the political situation and art of warfare within that time. In particular, he analyzes the tactics employed by Spartacus, viz. fighting in crosscountry terrains with the destruction of his enemies one by one, and using different military stratagems. Unlike Spartacus’ movement, which had turned into the real war involving, for more than two years, all the anti-Roman forces in Italy, two subsequent gladiatorial revolts (in 21 A.D. in Gaul and in 64 A.D. in Preneste near Rome) were much more modest in their character and significance. Chapter 8 («Gladiatorial games on the Northern Black Sea Coast») pays most attention to the tomb paintings of the 3rd quarter of the 1st century A.D., which were discovered at Panticapaeum (modem Kerch in the Eastern Crimea) in 1841. These works of Bosporan art demonstrate an animal persecution by pedestrian and mounted venators and gladiatorial combats. As a whole, the gladitorial performances in the Bosporan kingdom, like in many other Greek centers of the Roman Empire, were not widespread.

Подготовлено по изданию:

Горончаровский В. А.
Арена и кровь: Римские гладиаторы между жизнью и смертью. — СПб.: Петербургское Востоковедение, 2009. — 256 с. (Серия «Militaria Antiqua», XIII).
ISBN 978-5-85803-393-6
© В. А. Горончаровский, 2009
© «Петербургское Востоковедение», 2009

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