BY GINA DANNA
In all the eras of history, why did I write a romance during the time of gladiators? We’ve seen the films, the endings never end happily – Spartacus dies; the warriors in 300 die; Maximus in the movie Gladiator dies; so do the heroes in The Centurion and The Eagle. In fact, love is only minor role during that period, so why write about it?
I love romance novels and adore Ancient Rome. People then loved as much as we do today. Granted, this time period is raw and brutal but also beautiful. The Roman Empire ruled for hundreds of years and its history is still alive, still visible to us. My family history reaches back to this time and my love of the past pulls me there. Prompted by my profound interest in this era, and being a trained historian with a couple of degrees in History, I dug into the research and found a fantastic society on which to base a romance, Love & Vengeance.
There are some truly amazing facts about Rome –
- Marriage was more of a civil arrangement, not religious. Many times, it was a basis for increased property or standings. Plus the father may not totally relinquish his daughter to the groom meaning she never “left” the family for his and could be recalled though this is rare.
- Romans conquered most of the known world – all of Europe, up to Britannia, east toward the Balkans and Middle East plus northern Africa. The conquered could be subjected to Roman slavery.
- Rome’s religion was vast, often engulfing their newly acquired lands religious gods, adding to theirs and many time changed their names to Roman names (i.e.: Zeus became Jupiter; Aphrodite became Venus)
- Rome was the pinnacle of the Empire. The city alone by the time of Emperor Trajan numbered close to a million. Everyone wanted to be Roman and be there. The city itself was very diversified.
- The Romans often took the art of other cultures, like Greece, and transported it to Rome, claiming the gods told them to do so.
- Romans were very physically fit, playing sports and training on almost a daily basis.
- They also enjoyed “spectacles” like chariot races and the blood sport of the gladiators. Gladiatorial games included beasts and executions but unlike the movies and shows, very few actual contests ended in one of them dead.
- They were also very big on hygiene, bathing in the public baths, making it a social affair, and men shaved but they used a bronze scraper instead of a sharp razor or knife.
- They collected urine in public barrels for launderers to wash their colorful silk togas in, believing it helped maintain color.
With such a powerful and complex empire, how could one not fall in love with Rome?
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Gina Danna has spent the better part of her life reading. History has been her love and she spent numerous hours devouring historical romance stories, dreaming of writing one of her own. Years later, after receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, writing academic research papers and writing for museum programs and events, she finally found the time to write her own stories of historical romantic fiction.
Now, under the supervision of her three dogs and three cats, she writes amid a library of research books, with her only true break away is to spend time with her other life long dream – her Arabian horse – with him, her muse can play.