Monday, 15 June 2015


As part of my research for this project the first thing to do was of course look to see what I already had, which was not a lot, though I knew I did have at least one book about Gladiators.
Eventually I did find my copy of  "Those About to Die" by Daniel P. Mannix, an old paperback book that I'd  bought sometime in the early 1970’s for the princely sum of 30p, a long time before I'd played any Gladiator games, quite an investment as the Amazon Kindle edition is over £4! My copy may now have yellowed pages but it’s still in a readable state and a cracking read, if fanciful in parts.
The internet was of course the next place to trawl through looking for suitable literature at a reasonable price. I'd need three types of book I decided, firstly something about what they wore, weapons etc ("uniforms" for want of a better word) this should be fairly easy I thought. Next, some general background information about arenas, the games themselves, and all the usual background information that you need to at least be able to hold a conversation about the subject with some degree of knowledge. "Mannix" does give you a lot of information but sadly it feels dated and probably is.
 Lastly just to expand and satisfy my knowledge I felt I needed one or two "serious" books, the type you'd need to read rather than want to read - I'm just like that.
The next few days then were spent pouring through the various choice on the internet, looking for relevant books at a good price (i.e. within the £40 budget I'd set) and here's the results.

Firstly though, knowing that I'd read "Mannix" in no time at all, I'd need another book to occupy myself whilst having a day in hospital and I couldn't be sure I'd get my new books in time.  Amazon came to the rescue with "The Age of the Gladiators: Savagery and Spectacle in Ancient Rome by Rupert Mathews, an e-book I bought for my Kindle and was the first book I could easily get a hold of whilst waiting for other hard copies. Once more it was a good general light read, ideal to while away the hours I had to spend whilst hospitalised.
It felt a lot more up to date than "Mannix" (probably because it was) and followed a very similar format.

For the "uniform" information my own library was, to say the least, minimal, just two books with little more than a single page or two each (and one of those in French !). Although  I have a general interest in all history most of my reference material starts with gunpowder !
As in so many other projects I've started, I once more started  by looking at what was available in the Osprey collections. I've used Ospreys as one of my starting points for many different uniform researches and there was bound to be one !
There were two related Gladiator books, the softback"Osprey Warrior Series #39 Gladiators by Stephen Wisdom"and illustrated expertly as ever by Angus McBride, the other was about the revolt of Spartacus, which I felt would be superfluous to my current needs  - but would be kept in mind for future reference.  I’m guessing everyone is very familiar with the general Osprey book format and this one is no different; it’s concise, colourful and as accurate as any other source. Mine is a used copy but in good condition and was about half the price of a new one.
 On the Osprey website there was another book which caught my eye but was sadly out of stock
"Gladiator, Rome’s Bloody Spectacle", by Konstantin Nossov , a softback. To quote one reviewer “… is a big glossy book full of great pictures, artist's impressions, archaeological evidence and a good glossary at the back translating all the Latin gladiatorial terms.” And another review stated “The author of this book Konstatin Nossov has published before for Osprey and this book about Gladiators was already published in Russian in 2005”.  I knew it would be an excellent back-up to the “uniform” aspect of my research and and it was my third addition to my Gladiator bibliography and . I eventually managed to get a new copy from Ebay at about half the price. (it would also arrive last !).
If I were to recommend any book then this would be the one I'd recommend as it had everything one could hope for starting such a project as this. 
The book that seemed to have taken over from "Mannix" in popularity as the go-to book about was "The Gladiator, the Secret History of the Warrior Slave" by Alan Baker, hardback. I bought this off E-bay for less than £3, (the softback version would have cost just £2). 
I read "The Gladiator" during yet another day's soujourn in hospital and whilst it was a very easy read there was little that I hadn't already read in "Mannix", but it was more up to date.

 I wanted a book that would show me the historic evidence of Gladiators, their surviving equipment, mosaics, building etc. and bought "Gladiators at Pompeii" by Luciana Jacobella,  in hardback (score !) again off E-bay. For my purposes this was indeed a very good find. It was published in 2000 though and whilst the evidence hasn’t changed, some interpretations of it has, with time and newer discoveries. It's a coffee-table type book but a lot of the physical evidence we have about Gladiaotrs has come from the excavations at Pompeii. What struck me most whilst reading through this, was not just how much material has come from Pompeii, but how much has been lost throught the centuries of excavation, including frescos, reliefs,paintings and a lot more. For quick reference and flavour this book was a great find.

The most recent book I could find was "The Gladiators, History’s Most Deadly Sport" by Fik Meijer, in softback, a not too weighty tome which I bought brand new, again it was an E-bay buy and very cheap.
It was yet another general book of the history of Gladiators and follows much the same path as both "Mannix" and "Baker's" books. On the plus side it is the most up to date book of the three and like the others gives a good general flavour.

Gladiators and Caesars, edited by Eckart Khone and Cornelia Ewilgleben.- hardback and an ex-library book bought from Ebay. A “glossy” book with many illustrations.photographs etc but not quite a “coffee-table” book. As there are separate chapters about different Roman Emperors it could well be a volume that one can “dip” into as and when. I bought this out of impulse as I’d saved so much on certain volumes and I’m pleased I did.

Invisible Romans by Robert  Knapp, softback, another impulse buy and a very serious study of the “common” folk that are rarely heard of or written about. It’s not “light” reading by any means and certainly not one I’d recommend for a typical wagamer’s research, but I liked the idea of having more than just a passing “surface” knowledge  of the subject and I’ll be sticking with it.


  1. As a Gladiator fan I thought t pop by and see what was going on.

  2. Excellent you have been busy reading then. Its not something i've really read much about. I shall see if the library has any to borrow and have peruse.

    1. Alas Brummie not as busy as you may suspect, the first 6 posts of this blog have already been written ( I just check and 'polish' them before posting.
      I'm sure the lirary will have a lot of sutable reading material, there is a lot out there.

  3. Having a stalled 54mm Gladiator project myself, I shall be very interested to follow your progress Joe. And thank you for sharing your research list; I expect I'll be getting a couple of them mysalf at some point!

    BTW, I like how the "Invisible Romans" has an invisible cover picture - very appropriate!! :)

    1. Maybe this blog may invigorate your interest and get you own project moving along ?
      Lol on the Invisible Romans, I'll get a piccy of it no doubt, but I haven't actually read it all yet !

  4. Hey again Joe; just wanted to say that, based on this post, I ventured on eBay to get a copy of "The Gladiators, History’s Most Deadly Sport".

    Having now read it (it was an easy & quick read), I'm very glad you mentioned it as it is a great background/flavour book for 'gladiatoring'.

    I'll have a look at some of the others in the future, I'm sure!

    1. Yeah, the Fik Meier book is an easy read and gives a great 'flavour' too what I'm trying to acheive.