Circling Death: The Roman Arena

Arguably the most archetypical image of Rome is that of the gladiator fighting in the arena. The “sword and sandal” epics of popular culture often emphasise the amphitheatre as a place of Christian martyrdom – but how accurate is that image? What were the origins of these bloody spectator sports, who took part – and why? The answers may surprise and disturb you – but while for us Rome’s obsession with “Bread and Circuses” may have been “barbaric”, for the Romans the arena was a model of their world.


This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom. Enrolling students need to ensure they have an email, a reliable internet connection, microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.


SUGGESTED READING

  • Ewigleben, C and Kohne, E., trans; Jackson, R., 2000, Gladiators and Caesars: The Power of Spectacle in Ancient Rome, Berkeley
  • Fagan, G.G., 2011, The Lure of the Arena : Social Psychology and the Crowd at the Roman Games, Cambridge
  • Hopkins, K., 2005, The Colosseum, Cambridge (USA)
  • Kyle, D.G., 1998, Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome, London
  • Pearson, J., 1973, Arena: The Story of the Colosseum, New York
  • Poliakoff, M., 1987, Combat Sports in the ancient world: competition, violence and culture, New Haven
  • Quennell, P., 1971, The Colosseum, New York


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Exploration of the origins of combat sports and the development of the concept of the “arena” looking at Near Eastern, Greek and Etruscan counterparts.
  • The development and layout of the architecture of the amphitheatre and the gladiator’s schools
  • The political, social and religious significance of the amphitheatre
  • The life, death and iconography of a gladiator
  • What did they do with the bodies?
  • Christianity and the arena
  • The gladiator and arena in popular culture from the 18th to 21st centuries.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course students should be able to:

  1. Understand the origins of Roman combat spectacles
  2. Be familiar with the layout and function of the arena
  3. Appreciate the political and social agenda of the amphitheatre
  4. Learn about the different types of gladiators and events that took place within the arena
  5. Discover what probably happened to the bodies according to the latest research
  6. Appreciate some of the extraordinary locations and artefacts inspired by gladiatorial events.
$110 Limited / $99

<p>Arguably the most archetypical image of Rome is that of the gladiator fighting in the arena. The “sword and sandal” epics of popular culture often emphasise the amphitheatre as a place of Christian

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18 Nov

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