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Sport in the Ancient World from A to Z Hardcover – November 12, 2003
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For the sake of transparency, I must disclose that the picture of a gladiator on the book's cover turned me off. The book is about sports in the ancient world. I have argued on several occasions that gladiator shows should not be classified as sport.
I can only guess that it was not the author but the publisher who due to the ineffable draw and mystic of gladiators selected the cover picture.
The book's cover is the first thing that one sees. After purchasing the book, I read the introduction. Do not skip it; the intro contains several enlightening points. A question in the introduction left me speechless, so to speak. The author asks if gladiatorial combats can be, and I quote "considered sport at all".
That question was a pleasant surprise. I have yet to find anyone critically examining the context of gladiatorial shows. They are blindly placed under the heading of sport by publications about entertainment and life in ancient Rome. No other book about sport in the antiquity - that I have read, mind you - deals with the issue or offers any reflections, analysis or thought, you name it, on the topic. Nikephoros, the highly touted journal for sports and culture in antiquity, has never raised the issue.
The author goes on by explaining that he chose to include gladiatorial combats in the book because a) they were a real competition with unpredictable results, b) the combatants followed conventions and rules, c) the winners received significant rewards and, finally, d) in the ....
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