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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — The Gladiators by Arthur Koestler. The Gladiators by Arthur Koestler ,. Edith Simon Translator. Arthur Koestler's first novel, set in the late Roman Republic, tells the story of the revolt of Spartacus and man's search for Utopia.

The first of three novels concerned with the 'ethics of revolution', it addresses the age-old debate of whether the end justifies the means, an argument continued in his classic novels Darkness at Noon and Arrival and Departure. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published November 4th by Vintage Classics first published October 1st More Details Original Title. Rome Italy.

Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Gladiators , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Gladiators. Sep 09, Sarah Presto agitato rated it it was ok Shelves: roma-spqr , historical-fiction , dick-lit , revolution.

Especially when I found a used copy of it with this incredible cover. There are scantily clad dancing girls in the background and half mostly? Plus an oddly Old Western font for the title. Unfortunately, the book does not live up to the promising cover art. Koestler's tale covers the slave rebellions of BC, led by Spartacus, a gladiator.

The historical events were sensational enough in their own right. The army of slaves, eventually growing to more than ,, survived events such as a siege inside Mount Vesuvius to defeat Roman legions and capture several towns. Rome did not take the uprising seriously at first, but eventually was forced to send out armies led by Crassus and Pompey to crush it.

Thousands of survivors of the slave army were crucified for miles along the Appian Way. He uses this theme to tie together a trilogy that includes The Gladiators published in , Darkness at Noon , and Arrival and Departure , three books on different topics, but all about aspects of revolutions gone wrong.

He frequently interrupts the action for the characters to engage in long conversations about economics, unemployment, and government. These allusions end up seeming anachronistic. View all 10 comments. Sep 14, B0nnie marked it as books. But it reminded me of how tiny is the number of slaves of whom anything whatever is known.

I myself know the names of just three slaves—Spartacus himself, the fabulous Aesop, who is supposed to have been a slave, and the philosopher Epictetus, who was one of those learned slaves whom the Roman plutocrats liked to have among their retinue. All the others are not even names. Spartacus, I suppose, is much the most widely known slave there ever was. For five thousand years or more civilization rested upon slavery.

I think there is a moral in this for pacifists. View all 3 comments. Nov 26, Olethros rated it liked it. Lo que nos cuenta. Feb 26, Erwin Maack rated it really liked it. This is a deeply disturbing novel about the failure of mass revolutionary movements.

It contrasts the conscious self-interest of privileged elites with the self-interest of the masses and observes that there is one fundamental 'law' that operates beneath the surface of the facades of 'order' and 'patriotism', namely the fatalistic assertion of the leader of the fierce and melancholic Celts, the gladiator Crixus, that the law is simply, "Eat, or be eaten"!

Every ideal of human progress is puncture This is a deeply disturbing novel about the failure of mass revolutionary movements. Every ideal of human progress is punctured in this often underrated novel, yet, as asserted in the chapter in which 'the man with the bullet-head', an Israelite Essene, inspires the Thracian gladiator Spartacus with a vision of universal justice from the latter Jewish prophets, the tattered nobility of this defeat is reminiscent of the Christian version of a death on a cross that was also to lead to some final victory over brute nature.

And Spartacus, at the end of the book, walks post-mortem, like a resurrected Jesus, among the devastated; his vision they refuse to let die. Based upon the historic revolt of BC this event was one of the great revolutions of ancient history, a slave revolt that threatened the power of the Roman empire; a revolt that if it had succeeded would have mirrored the triumph of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in Lenin's favorite character in history is said to have been precisely the gladiator of the school in Capua, Spartacus, who emerged as the primary commander of the slave forces; however, the real leader, in Koestler's novel, is the gladiator without ambition or ideals, 'the man with the seal's head', Crixus.

Crixus is the expression of vengeance as justice and indulgence as the compensation for privation and exploitation, understanding that the rich and the powerful always win in the end so the only sensible response is to take everything you can while you can.

It is an ignoble, even ignorant, attitude, but the cynicism of the fat, equally self-indulgent and also deeply unhappy Roman banker-become-general, Marcus Crassus, quite reflects Crixus' own.

In a scene of a pre-'last battle' interview between Crassus and Spartacus, the latter actually notes even the physical resemblance between the rich man and the proletarian slave-gladiator which of course is a recognition of kindred motivation, the union of 'eaters' from 'above' and 'below', so to speak.

There is plenty of mayhem in this book but essentially it is for those who are willing to ask questions about base human nature and live with the results.

The characterizations are finely drawn, complex and varied, and the novelized history is fascinating. View 1 comment. Published in , The Gladiators is the first of a trilogy by Hungarian author and journalist, Arthur Koestler, that deals with the ethics of revolution.

Democracy and Communism. Capitalism and Marxism. Status Quo and Revolution. Koestler was less interested in portraying an accurate historical account than he was at using this moment in history to explore modern times.

Koestler was a man at odds with himself and he demonstrates this in his storytelling. At the time of this novel, the author was still a member of the Communist Party. A typical proletarian novel would praise the revolution and raise the masses to heroic levels as a type of self-serving embrace of the movement. Yet, Koestler opts to use Spartacus as a foil for the failure of that mass movement.

His Sun State was meant to be a brotherhood — a utopian paradise. It is an orderly world where needs are met and work for all exists, but eventually dissenters force Spartacus to begin ruling with a harsher hand. As an idealist, Spartacus struggled with trying to maintain his vision of a Sun States versus allowing people to determine their own destinies - regardless if the results were self-destructive. In the end, he allowed those around him to make the decisions that would lead to internecine among his followers and their executions at the hands of the Romans.

Koestler was at a crossroads. He still embraced Marxism as a philosophy but struggled with how the system would attain universal appeal. At its core, this novel explores his disappointment with revolutionary failure. Koestler debated whether the actual loss of life could be justified by an abstract ideal. By , Koestler left the Communist Party.

Sure enough, it was because Stalin had finally disillusioned him and gave flesh to his greatest fears. The Gladiators is less a story about historical Spartacus than it is about Koestler himself. And, this couldn't be more apropos. During this tumultuous time, he even found time to write the next two novels in the trilogy as he continued to struggle with the values of idealism. Clearly, this review is less about Spartacus and more about Koestler, because he is the actual context of the story.

Highly recommended for students of 20th century political philosophy - maybe less so for those wanting a historical fiction novel about ancient Rome. Crixus est sans fond. Et que dire du traitement des femmes! Mais enfin!

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