Cruelty and Civilization: The Roman Games By Roland Auguet
Blurb: "Cruelty and Civilization" offers an in-depth look at the Roman games as a force vital to the functioning of an Empire. Gladiatorial combats, chariot races and other spectacles were a kind of public opiate for the citizens of Ancient Rome. These rites gave rhythm and excitement to daily life in the Empire. From one year to the next, the Roman citizen lived in anticipation of the next games; through them he was able to forget the mediocrity of his own condition as well as his political enslavement. The most minutely organized productions were staged at vast expense, and Rome developed cults for arena champions, who were simultaneously idols and outcasts, doomed to a bloody death. Roland Auguet not only reconstructs in detail the conduct of these spectacles (gladiatorial combats, the sacrifice of prisoners to wild beasts, the chariot races, the combats between man and beast or beast and beast), but also analyzes the feelings of the crowd and the calculations of its rulers. He explainswhy the games dominated the life of the city. Examining the games in the context of a broader study of Roman customs, this book provides a synthesized view of how Roman civilization was to a large degree based on the games.
Emperors and Gladiators By Thomas Wiedemann
Blurb: Since antiquity, historians have put forth a number of theories to explain the role gladiatorial games played in Roman culture. The games have been seen as sacrifices to the gods or to the souls of the deceased, as a method to inure citizens against the horrors of fighting, and as a substitute for warfare during more peaceful Empire days. "Emperors and Gladiators" considers these theories, positing that they alone are insufficient in explaining the importance of the games. Wiedemann looks at the role of public ceremonies in the context of competition within the Roman elite, as public demonstrations both of the power of the Roman community as a whole and of the "virtue" of a particular public figure. He shows how emperors, seeking to identify themselves with the civilizing hero Hercules, used the games in the amphitheaters to advertise the legitimacy of their governments. Wiedemann also considers that to the Romans, the gladiatorial games represented the mythical struggle of order and civilization against the forces of nature, barbarism and criminality. Against the Romans' natural, human and imagined enemies, gladiators symbolized the possessors of the most crucial of Roman virtues: fighting ability. Wiedemann looks at this in the light of the criticisms of the gladiatorial games from both ancient and modern sources, suggesting that the Christian Romans' rejection of games, especially the use of death rituals, stemmed from a fear of their rivalry (and perhaps their similarity) with the Christian doctrine of resurrection. "Emperors and Gladiators" is fully illustrated, drawing on the latest epigraphical evidence to present an original and comprehensive study of thechanging significance of gladiatorial contests to Roman culture. It is of great value to both students and scholars of antiquity.
The Story of the Roman Amphitheatre By D. L. (David Lee) Bomgardner
Blurb: David Bomgardner traces the origins and development of that most typical and evocative of Roman monuments, the amphitheatre. He shows that they played a central role in the social and political life of ancient Rome and looks further at their origins, the form the spectacles took and their decline and final fall in the late empire.
In print – the second two are very expensive!