spectacle_lecture_11_17_09

spectacle_lecture_11_17_09 - Lecture notes 11/17/09: animal...

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Lecture notes 11/17/09: animal spectacles ( venationes ) Roman animal spectacles --kinds of animal spectacle ( venationes ): Hunts (especially in elaborate artificial “forests” constructed out of real trees brought into the Colosseum) Man-on-beast fights (either unarmed or armed) beast-on-beast fights (especially weird and improbable matches: bear vs. seal, rhinoceros vs. bear, elephant vs. anything) exhibitions of tamed and trained wild animals (especially elephants!) straightforward execution of condemned criminals by animal attack ( damnatio ad bestias ) “fatal charades” for condemned criminals ending in death by animal attack (“Orpheus,” “Hercules,” etc.) --time of day: venationes typically took place in the morning; some scholars have argued that this was because they were less popular than the afternoon attractions (gladiators) others have argued that this was simply the traditional time of day for a hunt and doesn’t suggest anything about relative popularity of different spectacles the more elaborate, “feature” spectacles would have an afternoon or a whole day to themselves, especially if they involved huge numbers of animals or “prestige” animals: tigers (very rare), elephants, rhinos, lions, and other big cats Sponsors --at first, wealthy private individuals sponsored these spectacles at Rome (we have letters between Cicero while he was a provincial governor and a friend back in Rome who kept nagging him to get panthers for him!), but eventually it became so expensive (and prestigious) that only the Emperor put on the shows --these spectacles were put on in provincial arenas by governors and other wealthy individuals, and we have extensive evidence that they were very popular in Africa; we have mosaics in which even the animals have names, and there seems to have been a religious association with the death of a man by an animal --there was an elaborate bureaucratic and military machinery developed to provide Rome with a steady supply of exotic animals from all corners of the Empire, although finally it became cheaper to stock menageries at Rome; in effect, this was an industry that
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spectacle_lecture_11_17_09 - Lecture notes 11/17/09: animal...

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