What likely will not come as a surprise to those who know me is that I am an ancient history nerd. As in, my room looks like a museum hiccuped in there, I spend every day on the bus reading scholarly articles, and, to me, learning Latin is an enjoyable hobby. So you can understand then that it was with little hesitation that when I was asked by my good friend Giorgio Franchetti to help bring his book on gladiators to English translation, I didn’t even have to think twice- I mean, is the Pope Catholic?
“Panem et Circenses: Sand and Blood” is a book about the real gladiators, not the “Spartacus” television show or “Gladiator” movie images that Hollywood has been selling, but presents a great overview of their lives, their deaths, and of course, their fighting. This project was a small labour of love and I learned as much from it as I hope I was able to give back into the translation.
To the credit of Giorgio Franchetti, “Panem et Circenses” in Italian, French, and English has found some successes in market and on May 13th, 2017 “Panem et Circenses: Sand and Blood” was being presented in a semi-private presentation in Rome, and I was invited along.
The location of this event was the Senatorial Palace, Rome’s city hall, located at the back center of the Piazza del Campidoglio, on the Capitoline Hill between the two wings of the Capitoline Museums, and overlooking the Forum Romanum. This location is steeped in history from all eras and is a prime location for tourists today- quite simply, the location was perfect. With the Senatorial Palace closed off to all but those authorized to enter, you can’t help but feel a bit special being allowed up the steps by the armed guards giving you way.
Inside was a “museum-typical” room that would ultimately be filled to capacity by about 70 attendees. Not only was “Sand and Blood” being presented, but also a small number of other history based works from the same publisher. Some things are a dead giveaway and I knew I was in the right place was when I saw the Praetorian guard and senator at the entry door. Let the games begin, indeed.
The presentation was quite an honour to be a part of, and Giorgio Franchetti did a great job both presenting and MC’ing (he’s in the blue sweater in the above picture), and I have to thank him dearly for the opportunity to bring some ancient history love to those who speak my language, and for giving me the opportunity to be there for this presentation of the book. Unfortunately, the book is not readily available in North America at this point (Amazon.it is your best option) but if you’re ever in Rome, check out one of the museum bookstores, and look for my name on the cover…