spectacle_lecture_11_10_09 - Lecture notes 11/11/08: the...

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Lecture notes 11/11/08: the Colosseum Before the Colosseum existed -- munera were held in the Forum (the marketplace) in Rome --gladiatorial combats, which originated in funeral ludi , may have been held in cemeteries at first --apparently elite families had traditional claims on good viewing spots in the Forum --as with dramatic ludi , the sponsor ( editor ) of munera might build temporary wooden structures (bleachers around a clearing) to put on shows; while this seems cumbersome and expensive to us, it might have seemed like an impressive outlay of wealth to the Romans --all this finally changed with the advent of permanent stone theaters and amphitheaters, which the Roman elite resisted for a long time as dangerous to morals, politics, etc., but finally realized the potential of… The Flavian Amphitheater, a.k.a. the Colosseum --after Nero, the last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, committed suicide in 68 CE, there followed what has become known as “the year of the four emperors,” a tumultuous period when several different generals were acclaimed as emperor, fought each other, and died --the ultimate winner of all this was Vespasian, a “soldier’s soldier” from Italy (not Rome), a regular guy (not a nobilis ), a tough, pragmatic, down-to-earth guy – just what the Romans were craving after the excesses of the Julio-Claudians, especially Nero --Vespasian’s family name was Flavus, and so his dynasty is called the Flavian dynasty: it’s made up of: Vespasian his son Titus his other son Domitian (all together they ruled from 69-98 CE) --as you’ll recall, when we talked about Nero, I mentioned that the manmade lake within his Golden House was eventually used as the site of the Colosseum by the next dynasty of emperors, the Flavians --the official name of the amphitheater is therefore the “Flavian Amphitheater,” but it’s called the “Colosseum” because the colossal statue of Nero as the Sun God (Apollo) was kept outside and remade into a statue of Apollo --the amphitheater was commissioned by Vespasian in 75 CE --it was a way of returning the land Nero had appropriated for his private pleasure back to
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spectacle_lecture_11_10_09 - Lecture notes 11/11/08: the...

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