GLADIATOR SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
Everyone knows what a gladiator is – the image of the sweaty, blood-stained hero standing in the arena surrounded by cheering fans is seared on our memories thanks to movies like The Gladiator (2000). The term has become a by-word for fearlessness, appearing in the modern vernacular in TV shows such as Scandal where they refer to themselves as gladiators in suits.
What of the women who fought in the Roman arenas of death? Of them we know little. History has recorded the fact they existed but nothing about who they were, where they trained or how popular they may have been. References to female gladiators number only a handful. What we do know comes from archaeological finds and mentions in works by men such as Suetonius who tells us in his work The Twelve Caesars the Emperor Domitian liked to stage fights between dwarves and women for his amusement.
There are two schools of thought on the absence of information about female gladiators. One states they must have been uncommon novelty acts due to the little mentioned about them by the scholars of the day. The other school of thought recommends the opposite viewpoint that they were so prevalent they were not worth mentioning at all. We have no real way of determining who is right.
Roman social historian Mark Vesley has speculated on the possibility gladiator schools were unfit for women and their training was undertaken by private tutors in a collegia iuvenum, a kind of organisation which would have been formed for the task which may account for a lack of detailed information about the women.
What we do know is Emperor Septimius Severus banned female gladiators around AD200 although there is some evidence that, in places like Ostia, women still occasionally fought.
So when I sit down to write about my fighting beauties in books such as Barbarian Bride and The Last Gladiatrix I draw from the historical evidence of what life was like for the men and then imagine how that might have been for the women too. Without any firm evidence for how they lived their lives we are left to fill in the details with our imaginations.
If you are interested in a little bit more about the evidence for female gladiators check out the Journal of Combative Sport web page: http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsart_murray_0703.htm The article by Steven Murray contains a lot of information and some great references.
On the bloody ground of the Colosseum, she fights to save her life. In the treacherous boxes above, he fights to save their love.
Though Klara didn’t love the man who was to be her husband, she didn’t want him murdered, and she vows to track down the man who committed the crime. Sickened that she’d been attracted to the mysterious Roman, Klara tracks Lucius Aurelius to the fringes of the Roman Empire, only to find that they’ve both been trapped in a clever plot to overthrow Klara’s father, the Chief of the Huns.
Klara is separated from Lucius, captured by slavers and sold to a gladiator school. She is the only one who can save herself, by fighting for her freedom. Lucius can ensure her battle is easier, but only by sacrificing himself. How much is he willing to give up for the fiery woman he’s come to love?
“How much further?” she asked.
“Not far. The wood thickens up ahead and we can take refuge for a little while, catch some sleep.”
“So no bed?” Sleeping on the hard ground had not been in her plans.
“Sorry, Princess. We can’t risk being seen together. A Roman travelling with a Hun, let’s just say it’s an unusual combination.”
“I don’t see why.” Klara became grumpy when she was overtired and found the need to take her mood out on Lucius irresistible. “What’s wrong with a Hun and a Roman being seen together? Your trade partners were Hun and no one thought anything of it.”
“In case you’ve forgotten, you’re a woman and I am a man. We’re not married to each other. We don’t have a chaperone. And you might find many people in these parts object to all of those facts. Would you like me to continue?” Lucius ticked off the points on his fingers in the most irritating manner.
“I haven’t forgotten,” she hissed. “I do wish you’d stop treating me like I’m some silly-headed girl.”
“I do beg your pardon, Princess,” Lucius sketched a mock bow. “I meant no offence.” Klara doubted that. She shot a sideways glance at the Roman, sitting above her in his saddle as if he were the Emperor himself and not simply a trader. How did he manage to look so fresh while she felt as stale as yesterday’s bread? It wasn’t fair.
Eva lives on the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland Australia in the town which brought the world the Bee Gees. When she’s not writing romance you can find her out on the water kayaking, fishing or swimming. When on dry land it’s all about the shoes and the coffee (and old Bee Gees records).
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Eva will be awarding a copy of Barbarian Bride and The Last Gladiatrix (the first book in the Romancing The Romans series) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US ONLY). So be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour!