The mini-series features the history of the House of Batiatus and the city of Capua before the arrival of Spartacus. The main story opens not long after Quintus Lentulus Batiatus becomes lanista, manager of the House’s slaves and gladiators, when he takes over his father’s ludus.
Batiatus is quickly discovered to have grand ambitions, beginning with the stepping out from his father’s shadow. As the story progresses, Batiatus continues to seek greatness for the House under his leadership, as well as recognition for his own name. By his side stands his devoted wife, Lucretia, who is willing to help her husband achieve his goals regardless of the cost. Batiatus soon places all of his fortunes on one man whom he believes will bring fame and glory to the House of Batiatus, his best gladiator, the Celt Gannicus. Gannicus is a skilled warrior almost without equal, who wields his dual swords in the arena with great prowess. However, Batiatus’ opponents would not sit idly and allow his ascent to greatness without challenge.
Purchased as an undisciplined and disheveled recruit in the first episode, Crixus the Gaul initially endures mockery and threats of death, before eventually rising to become a gladiator of skill and fame second only to Gannicus. As Batiatus fends off repeated attempts by his professional rival Tullius to obtain Gannicus, his relationships with his father Titus and friend Solonius begin to suffer the strain of Quintus’ relentless ambition. Former champion gladiator Oenomaus reluctantly retires from combat to become Doctore, while Syrian recruits Ashur and Dagan become fierce enemies as Ashur tries to prove himself worthy of being a gladiator. Veteran gladiators Barca and Gannicus accept the rising star of Crixus but fear that their own careers will suffer, as the machinations of Batiatus and Lucretia to court Capua’s elite end in tragedy for several members of the household. Against all of this, the city’s splendid new arena nears completion and with it the opening games that will make men into gods. When the arena opens Solonius’ and Batiatus’ gladiators compete with each other, Batiatus’ gladiators prevailing in the contest. Gannicus again proves himself to be the champion of Capua and the god of the arena and by virtue of his win against Solonius’ gladiators, becomes the champion of Capua and gains his freedom.
- Dustin Clare as Gannicus – a Celtic gladiator who is the champion of the Batiatus’ ludus.
- Peter Mensah as Oenomaus/Doctore – a Numidian gladiator who later becomes the doctore of Batiatus’ gladiators.
- Marisa Ramirez as Melitta – Lucretia’s body slave, the wife of Oenomaus and the secret lover of Gannicus.
- Manu Bennett as Crixus – a new Gallic gladiatorial recruit.
- Nick E. Tarabay as Ashur – a new Syrian gladiatorial recruit.
- Shane Rangi as Dagan – a gladiatorial recruit who cannot speak Latin, and fellow Syrian to Ashur.
- Antonio Te Maioha as Barca – a Carthaginian gladiator.
- Josef Brown as Auctus – a gladiator and Barca’s lover.
- Temuera Morrison as Ulpius/Doctore – Oenomaus’ predecessor as the trainer of Batiatus’ gladiators.
- Lesley-Ann Brandt as Naevia – a young house-slave.
- Jessica Grace Smith as Diona – a house-slave and Naevia’s friend who loses her virginity at the whim of Cossutius.
- John Hannah as Quintus Lentulus Batiatus – a lanista
- Lucy Lawless as Lucretia – Batiatus’ wife.
- Jaime Murray as Gaia – a social climber and Lucretia’s friend.
- Craig Walsh Wrightson as Marcus Decius Solonius – Batiatus’ close friend who has aspirations of becoming a lanista himself.
- Jeffrey Thomas as Titus Lentulus Batiatus – Quintus Batiatus’ father and the pater familias of the House of Batiatus.
- Stephen Lovatt as Tullius – Batiatus’ brutal business rival.
- Gareth Williams as Vettius – owner of a rival ludus.
- Jason Hood as Cossutius – a wealthy man who lives outside of Capua.
The opportunity to produce Gods of the Arena emerged when the second season of Spartacus was halted while lead actor Andy Whitfield battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Series creator and executive producer Steven S. DeKnight expanded a single flashback episode for the second season into a six-part mini-series.
Production for Gods of the Arena began in New Zealand in August 2010.
You can find out about the life of Spartacus and an overview of the Spartacus ‘franchise’ here.
You can find a full index and overview of the Spartacus 2010-2013 series here.
- Episode 01: Past Transgressions.
- Episode 02: Missio.
- Episode 03: Paterfamilias.
- Episode 04: Beneath the Mask.
- Episode 05: Reckoning.
- Episode 06: The Bitter End.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Jesse Warn, Rick Jacobson, Michael Hurst, Brendan Maher, and John Fawcett.
- Writer(s): Steven S. DeKnight, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Aaron Helbing, Todd Helbing, Seamus Kevin Fahey, Misha Green, and Brent Fletcher.
- Release Date: 21 January 2011 to 25 February 2011.
- Running Time: 53-60 minutes (per episode).
- Rating: 18.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.