Panem et Circenses is an essay on the world of gladiators to try to find out who these men and women really were. It is a essay about people that were acclaimed, derided, insulted, loved and hated, and simply called “Gladiators”. In fact not may authors dared to try to explain the dark sides of this topic: who they really were?
Why did they sometimes voluntarily choose to challenge the death? How could a man become a gladiator? What did they eat? Did they have a family? And what happened at the end of a contract or at the end of a long career in the arena? Did they have any friends? And wives? Did they really love them? Or are they commonplace? This book tries to answer these questions, giving the reader a very human side of this phenomenon, which commonly people tend to criticize or exalt, but it is hard to understand in the Roman mentality of his time; especially it is difficult to examine it from the point of view of those who lived it on their skin, that were human beings.
The first chapter of this book introduces a quick story of the phenomenon, starting with the two possible matrices that originated it, then telling the escalation that lived this phenomenon during the last decades of the republic and then almost for all the empire before being condemned by Christianity, how the emperors themselves were avid fans, or how they lived in total indifference, how everything grew and then how it ended.
In the second and third chapters there are “branches” of entertainment connected with the world of gladiators, as naval battles organized in amphitheatres, then venationes, exotic animal hunting or clashes between men and animals.
In the fourth chapter, we discuss the typical gladiatorial day, how they were announced, what were the expectations on the eve, how did the gladiators live and how the public lived it, how the fightings began, what was the starting signal, what gladiators did during and before, how these games were remembered and how they were being eternal by the viewers themselves with graffiti.
In the fifth chapter you learn details about these men (and women): who were they really? We will enter exactly what their gym was, how it was structured, how the various combat classes were assigned, we will see how they were trained and what their daily life was like. We will talk about their loves and passions, their families, how they lived a choice of this kind, their gains and how they could finish their career. Finally we will talk about their memory, analyzing a series of epigraphics, very touching testimonies.
The rest of the essay is really interesting but I don’t want to unveil more.
I wanted to straighten out some of the historical information that cinema has spilled on the four winds, devoid of any archaeological or historical relevance, sometimes resulting in wrong interpretations and others in true fantasy.
The result of my journey of 15 years of experimentation and re-enacting is contained in this volume, where I mentioned the references to the dozens and dozens of books read and consulted during my investigation, because where I didn’t succeed in seeing I tried to use the eyes of witnesses and the words of past authors.