Sport & Spectacle in the Ancient World is a fascinating and insightful book that explores how ancient religious rituals evolved into sporting events intended to please the masses.  

The book focuses on how Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome utilized sports and spectacle to create a common language amongst the citizenry through celebratory victory (Greece) or violent interactive spectacle (Rome).

We get an in-depth look at how the Olympics emerged from a festival honoring Zeus to the modern-day Olympics of today.  How we interpret the past versus the historical reality left by Antiquity is a real eye-opener when you see how today’s Olympics aren’t as steeped in ancient tradition as many might believe (the origin of the Torch Relay is a tad alarming).

The book also discusses the evolution of Rome’s infamous spectacles involving chariot races, animal fights, gladiators, public executions, and other violent acts under the guise of entertainment.

I really enjoyed this book.  Yes, it’s a textbook, but it offers a wealth of information about the ancient world from the perspective of sporting events and spectacles.  I highly recommend this textbook to ancient history fans or those curious about the origins of the Olympics.