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The Gladiator's Master
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The Gladiator's Master by Fae Sutherland, Marguerite Labbe | | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble®
It's not a story element I usually highlight, even when I review erotic romance, but it deserves its own paragraph in this one. The sex. The searingly hot, powerful, intense, man-on-man sex. This book has lots of it. Smokin' hot, pulse-pounding, delicious. If that's not your cuppa, then by all means, avoid this book, but if it works for you, The Gladiator's Master should be in your TBR pile.
At the top. Just keep away from flammable objects and read with a bucket of water near at hand, because the sex in this book is explosive and reading it could break every fire safety code on the books.
Consider that my Public Service Announcement of the day. It's good to get that part clear, because it frees me up to say that none of that is why I loved this book. Sure, it was a damn nice bonus wickedly, wonderfully nice , but the story and the characters that Sutherland and Labbe have created here pretty much rocked my world. I know a whole lot of nothing about ancient Rome beyond a distant history class and a movie or two, and I can't remember ever reading another book set in that time, so I can't speak intelligently on the historical accuracy of the book, but it seemed pretty authentic to me, and that let me sink right into the story and settle back for a rich, vibrant read with fabulous characters I quickly fell in love with.
I adored Caelius. Then again, he's a progressive, fair-minded man who treats his slaves as people due respect and garners their loyalty through just treatment, despite living in a world corrupt by decadence and voracious greed, so there isn't much there not to like. And admire. I suppose I could have been unsettled with him having slaves at all, but to do so would be roughly akin to being upset about the blood in a novel about vampires. The Roman Empire was not known for its humanitarian efforts.
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Caelius' heart was always in the right place, though, and the yearning tenderness he had for Gaidres Argon was as sympathetic and poignant as his frustration with the man's obstinacy was amusing. And wow, Gaidres is one obstinate buck. With good reason, sure, but there were times I wanted to strangle him and be done with it. He was much like a cornered, threatened wild animal at the start of the book, teeth bared, suspicious, ready to slaughter whomever dared get close.
Choking on pride, cloaked in hatred, his past was an open wound and his future a bleak penance.
I found him The careful modulation of his character and the development of nuanced emotion in him over the course of the book was both brilliantly executed and fabulously entertaining. In fact, some of my favorite parts of the book were the scenes in which Caelius and Gaidres were in conversation that tilted Gaidres' world right on its axis. Courage, dignity, altruism and loyalty were morally redemptive; Lucian idealised this principle in his story of Sisinnes, who voluntarily fought as a gladiator, earned 10, drachmas and used it to buy freedom for his friend, Toxaris.
These accounts seek a higher moral meaning from the munus , but Ovid 's very detailed though satirical instructions for seduction in the amphitheatre suggest that the spectacles could generate a potent and dangerously sexual atmosphere. There remained the thrilling possibility of clandestine sexual transgression by high-caste spectators and their heroes of the arena. Such assignations were a source for gossip and satire but some became unforgivably public: . What was the youthful charm that so fired Eppia?
What hooked her? What did she see in him to make her put up with being called "the gladiator's moll"? Her poppet, her Sergius, was no chicken, with a dud arm that prompted hope of early retirement. Besides his face looked a proper mess, helmet-scarred, a great wart on his nose, an unpleasant discharge always trickling from one eye. But he was a gladiator.
That word makes the whole breed seem handsome, and made her prefer him to her children and country, her sister, her husband. Steel is what they fall in love with. Most gladiators would have aimed lower. On the one and the same account they glorify them and they degrade and diminish them; yes, further, they openly condemn them to disgrace and civil degradation; they keep them religiously excluded from council chamber, rostrum, senate, knighthood, and every other kind of office and a good many distinctions. The perversity of it!
They love whom they lower; they despise whom they approve; the art they glorify, the artist they disgrace. In this new Play, I attempted to follow the old custom of mine, of making a fresh trial; I brought it on again. In the first Act I pleased; when in the meantime a rumor spread that gladiators were about to be exhibited; the populace flock together, make a tumult, clamor aloud, and fight for their places: meantime, I was unable to maintain my place.
Images of gladiators could be found throughout the Republic and Empire, among all classes. Mosaics dating from the 2nd through 4th centuries AD have been invaluable in the reconstruction of combat and its rules, gladiator types and the development of the munus. Throughout the Roman world, ceramics, lamps, gems and jewellery, mosaics, reliefs, wall paintings and statuary offer evidence, sometimes the best evidence, of the clothing, props, equipment, names, events, prevalence and rules of gladiatorial combat.
Earlier periods provide only occasional, perhaps exceptional examples. Souvenir ceramics were produced depicting named gladiators in combat; similar images of higher quality, were available on more expensive articles in high quality ceramic, glass or silver. Pliny the Elder gives vivid examples of the popularity of gladiator portraiture in Antium and an artistic treat laid on by an adoptive aristocrat for the solidly plebeian citizens of the Roman Aventine :.
When a freedman of Nero was giving a gladiatorial show at Antium , the public porticoes were covered with paintings, so we are told, containing life-like portraits of all the gladiators and assistants. This portraiture of gladiators has been the highest interest in art for many centuries now, but it was Gaius Terentius who began the practice of having pictures made of gladiatorial shows and exhibited in public; in honour of his grandfather who had adopted him he provided thirty pairs of Gladiators in the Forum for three consecutive days, and exhibited a picture of the matches in the Grove of Diana.
The decline of the munus was a far from straightforward process.
Still, emperors continued to subsidize the games as a matter of undiminished public interest. Ten years later, he forbade criminals being forced to fight to the death as gladiators:.
Bloody spectacles do not please us in civil ease and domestic quiet. For that reason we forbid those people to be gladiators who by reason of some criminal act were accustomed to deserve this condition and sentence. You shall rather sentence them to serve in the mines so that they may acknowledge the penalties of their crtimes with blood . This has been interpreted as a ban on gladiatorial combat. Yet, in the last year of his life, Constantine wrote a letter to the citizens of Hispellum, granting its people the right to celebrate his rule with gladiatorial games. In , Valentinian I r.
In , Theodosius I r. Honorius r. According to Theodoret , the ban was in consequence of Saint Telemachus ' martyrdom by spectators at a munus. In the Byzantine Empire, theatrical shows and chariot races continued to attract the crowds, and drew a generous Imperial subsidy. It is not known how many gladiatoria munera were given throughout the Roman period. Many, if not most, involved venationes , and in the later Empire some may have been only that. In BC, at least one munus was held during April's Megalesia.
In the early Imperial era, munera in Pompeii and neighbouring towns were dispersed from March through November. They included a provincial magnate's five-day munus of thirty pairs, plus beast-hunts. Of days reserved for spectacles of various kinds, were for theatrical shows, 64 for chariot races and just 10 in December for gladiator games and venationes. A century before this, the emperor Alexander Severus r. As Wiedemann points out, December was also the month for the Saturnalia , Saturn's festival, in which death was linked to renewal, and the lowest were honoured as the highest.
Some Roman reenactors attempt to recreate Roman gladiator troupes. Some of these groups are part of larger Roman reenactment groups, and others are wholly independent, though they might participate in larger demonstrations of Roman reenacting or historical reenacting in general. These groups usually focus on portraying mock gladiatorial combat in as accurate a manner as possible.
Secutor, Thraex vs. Gladiator fights have been depicted in a number of peplum films also known as "sword-and-sandal" movies. This is a genre of largely Italian-made historical epics costume dramas that dominated the Italian film industry from to They can be immediately differentiated from the competing Hollywood product by their use of dubbing. The pepla attempted to emulate the big-budget Hollywood historical epics of the time, such as Spartacus.
Inspired by the success of Spartacus , there were a number of Italian peplums that emphasized the gladiatorial arena fights in their plots, with it becoming almost a peplum subgenre in itself; One group of supermen known as "The Ten Gladiators" appeared in a trilogy, all three films starring Dan Vadis in the lead role.