I'm currently reading Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn, an adult historical fiction that revolves around a Jewish slave girl and a Britannic gladiator. What an interesting match up, it's heartbreaking no less.
Rome was an important stepping stone in humanity's past and their ingenious inventions are things to be admired. But like most early humans, they were a savage and tough people. I don't know how else to describe a population who spent their Sundays watching men and women being skinned by vicious animals and cheering for their downfall.
However, that was the way of life in ancient Rome and a well documented one as well. Many know of the Romans and their accomplishments. We know of crazy Nero who played his lyre while Rome burned or of Caligula who despised the Senate so much he named his favourite horse a senator. No doubt they were ridiculous leaders but how about the people below them? The gladiators forced to put down their lives for their entertainment?
Honestly, it was probably a horrible fate and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but like other not too noble occupations like: assassins (Assassin Creed) and thieves (Robin Hood), gladiators are romanticized and incredibly interesting to read about.
- They know any fight can be their last.
- They are tough men and women from across the world.
- They wish for a rudius, an Emperor's grant of freedom.
- They are the object of many's fancy.
- But, they are slaves (not all).
It's a mystery how they managed to live and how the men and women that loved them coped after their death.
I've just started to make a dent in Mistress of Rome but gladiators seem to be the super stars of the Romans. They were slaves whose lives were forfeit in the Colosseum but outside they were peppered with noble women, fans and graffiti.
It's kind of sad that I have to travel outside the YA genre to find a book that interested me and captured Rome in a realistic and detailed fashion. There are definitely a fantastic bunch of YA historical fiction authors who do this phenomenally but none to my knowledge who wrote about gladiators. Wouldn't it be a great new craze? Vamps, werewolves, angels, zombies to gladiators!