In The Deadliest Lie, Miriam bat Isaac’s twin brother Binyamin sails to Rome and then treks along the Appian Way to Capua to enroll in the oldest gladiator school in the Roman Empire, the one Spartacus made famous. Most gladiators were slaves, prisoners-of-war, or criminals. But some, like Binyamin, were free citizens of Rome who volunteered for the thrill of living on the edge, having their debts forgiven, and being adored as a popular hero, if only among the vulgar. The other classes considered gladiators to be the most loathsome of creatures, despised, and utterly without humanity.
But the tuition to enter a gladiator school was high. The volunteer had to give himself body and soul to the school. He took a solemn oath that bound him for the five-year term of the contract to endure the worst forms of torture and death the arena could offer. And he lived under guard in a prison-like compound, locked in a tiny, crowded cell except when training in the courtyard.
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