Roman Times and Events: Those about to Die, Forward or Preface

(by Daniel P. Mannix, 1958)

Those about to Die Foreword

"Hail Caesar, we who are about to die salute you!"

IN THE VAST MARBLE COLOSSEUM—greater than Yankee Stadium—the death struggles of the gladiators, the mangled bodies of the charioteers, whetted the people's appetite for excitement and thrills.

The Empire was dying, and the Roman Games—ruthless, brutal, perverse—were the emotional outlet for the discontented mob. Feats of strength and skill no longer pleased. Men were pitted against wild beasts, professional swordsmen against unarmed prisoners. The Emperor Trajan gave one set of games that lasted 122 days during which 11,000 people and 10,000 animals were killed.

Still the thirst for sadistic and perverse "novelties" mounted. Death and torture were the only spectacles that could really gratify the people's longing. Death and sex were the only emotions they could still really grasp. The sight of a lion tearing a screaming woman apart gratified both instincts. . . .

"If you can image a superior American sports writer suddenly being transported back in time to cover the ancient Roman games, you will have some idea of the flavor and zest of THOSE ABOUT TO DIE. This paper back popular history manages to compress an astonishing number of facts about the five centuries of games."

Los Angeles Times

Although this is considered the dawn of a bright new world of information, most of us are still stumbling in the dark.


Roman Events: Those about to Die, Index or Table of Contents