Condemned and yet feared by emperors, almost certain to be slaughtered and yet adored by the masses, the gladiator was the superstar of his day. His existence was invariably short and violent, improved only faintly by the prospect of honor, wealth, and public attention. Yet men gave up their freedom to become gladiators, noblewomen gave up their positions to elope with them, and Emperors risked death to fight them. This thrilling popular history of ancient Rome's gladiators charts the evolution of the games; introduces us to the legendary fighters, trainers, and emperors who participated in the violent sport; and re-creates in gripping detail a day at the bloody games. Alan Baker reveals the techniques of the training school, then sets us ringside to witness the torturous battles between bulls, lions, jaguars, and battle-hardened human beings. With each breathtaking scene, the complex culture of world that created and adored these bloody games between man and beast comes into clear focus. A work of history that reads like fiction, The Gladiator brings to life Spartacus, Commodus, Caligula, and all of the other memorable players of the nearly thousand-year-long gladiatorial era.