This is the cover for the collected stories of "Boris O'Hara": called "To the Death" by Jerrold Mundis
After discussing the various elements involved in each story we initially tried a montage, but Jerrold decided he's prefer to go for something with more action. Almost like a traditional pulp cover.
It was quite a daunting subject and I spent a lot of time collecting reference. In my fictional coliseum I wanted to include some of the Roman Gods so in the back ground you see Jupiter (King of the Gods) Mars (God of War) and Venus (God of love). I also felt it would need a great crowd bristling with excitement.
The battle is taking place in the late afternoon, the sun casting the long shadows and bright light slashes across the crowd, through the breaks in the canvas overhang.
The gladiators battle as the woman looks on, wondering if she will have to live with the grief of losing her love and remain a slave to the older warrior or if her lover can set her free.