May 20, 2011


Philip Matyszak, Gladiator: The Roman Fighter's [Unofficial] Manual (London: Thames & Hudson, 2011) (Very few people are aware of the fact that, well before the metaphor of 'lawyer as hired gun' took hold, there was the view of lawyers, especially those who engage in complex, high-stakes litigation, as gladiator. I kid you not. And, finally, we have an updated [unofficial] manual. "Welcome the world of the gladiator, a strange world full of contradictions. This is where the dishonoured learn to live and die with honour. Here, the artist is as despised as his art is respected; and in turn many gladiators scorn the spectators at the arena, but yet are dying --sometimes literally-- to entertain them. . . . " "For the right kind of person the arena offers riches, fame, and personal redemption, and even the wrong kind of person gets the chance of an honourable death. And anyone considering a gladiatorial career is probably well aware that worse things can happen. In fact many gladiators choose the profession precisely because those worse things would otherwise happen to them in the near future." Id. at 6. As you read this manual, you may well sense the demise of the profession. The modern gladiator/litigator no longer goes into battle with the cry, "WIN, or DIE!" In ancient times, when two gladiators met in combat, only the victor got to live, got to go home, and got to fight another day. In our postmodern times, the losing gladiator/litigator not only gets to live, gets to go home, and gets to litigate another day, but, in all probability, gets to go golfing the next weekend with the winning gladiator/litigator. Spartacus would not understand!).