From a history standpoint, I was a little skeptical about this book at first. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great book, but as I started reading I noticed that at times the author tended to wonder, not always staying on topic. But realistically, in history, when you sit down to focus on one subject, you quickly find that there are so many external factors that influence each other that you have no choice but to detour a little and discuss other topics.

So when I started reading The Gladiator by Alan Baker, I wasn’t concerned when the author began to discuss at length the history of Rome as opposed to the history of the gladiator. What I soon came to understand is that the history of Rome and it’s culture – a culture now two thousand years in the past – is what led to a society that could stomach the gladiatorial games. The biggest point made in the book was how the emergence of the Catholic faith out of obscurity lead to the decline of the gladiatorial games, and not for reasons that most would expect.

The gladiatorial games came to end not because they were seen as grotesque – although they were probably seen as that, too – but because of how the gladiator begged for one’s life if he recognized that the battle was lost. You see, the gladiatorial games were not to the death, as many history books have taught us, one could ask the crowd – and more specifically, the Emperor – to spare his life, which many times was granted. This, however, was looked down upon by the Catholics as salvation and forgiveness came from only one place – God – and not from any man. Hence, this was a liability to the Catholic faith and thus had to end.

This book was a very good read. In short, terms about the games were given and explained in great detail; the major concepts and points were stated clearly by the author and the history that was talked about was very in-depth and specific.

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