As I enjoy the aftermath of my latest release and wait for the birth of my first child really, really soon (~less than 3 weeks, fingers crossed) I am inclined to share some more of the inspirations that led me down the road to my first series. I discussed discovering the Gladiatorial types that hooked me on the arena as a young boy in an earlier post. Imagine my excitement when I discovered the fact that they sometimes flooded the Colosseum…
In 46 BC Julius Caesar commissioned a special Gladiatorial contest to commemorate his victories in Egypt. It involved sixteen ships and around six-thousand slaves. This was the first Naumachia, a kind of naval reenactment. This type of spectacle was obviously more expensive, but also purchased more glory for whomever was putting on the games.
My young mind was positively blown away by this knowledge, oblivious, of course, to the human cost. The idea that the Romans would go this far to vary their favoured spectacle really made an impression on me.
Further readings uncovered the knowledge that some Gladiators, Venators (Hunters), specialized in killing beasts.
Beast fights were held before noon, which likely meant that they were considered less entertaining than contests between Gladiators. Bears, bulls, and big cats seemed to be favoured combatants, but Venetors would even hunt deer for the the entertainment of the crowd.
Facing beasts armed only with a spear seems much more dangerous than hunting with a gun, or even a bow. Likely however, the hunter would have won most of these contests.
Prisoners were occasionally fed to lions and other beasts in the arena — something touched on in the bible among other sources.
The Romans apparently depopulated many predatory animal populations in an effort to secure fodder for the games.
The monster fights in the Bloodlust series are an echo of the Venator traditions.
These are just some of the varied match types in the arena. Interesting stuff, although very bloody and incredibly destructive by modern standards. I find the variety and the effort put into the spectacle really draws me in as an idea for games and fiction.