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spectacle_lecture_11_19_09

spectacle_lecture_11_19_09 - Lecture notes spectacular...

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Lecture notes 11/19/09: spectacular executions Executions of lower-class common criminals --slaves and very lower-class free people condemned for capital crimes were executed in painful, humiliating , and public ways: Crucifixion (Spartacus and 6000 of his slave followers were crucified along the Appian Way, for example) Being burned alive (either being tied to a stake and set on fire or being forced to wear the tunica molesta , the “burning shirt” soaked in something flammable and set on fire) Damnatio ad bestias Sometimes the condemned were forced to fight each other like gladiators, but without real armor or shields Sometimes the condemned were executed by gladiators, though not often --motives that drove Roman criminal punishments: the desire for retribution/revenge (this helps explain the principle of talio , “fitting” punishment – arsonists burned alive, thieves having their hands cut off, etc.) deterrence of crime through public humiliation and torture of criminals desire to watch Justice being done; sense that the state was taking care of things --many executions took place in the amphitheater, usually during midday (between the animal spectacles in the morning and the gladiators in the afternoon) Executions of upper-class criminals --upper-class criminals were usually given a (relatively) painless, dignified , and private execution --upper-class criminals were normally beheaded; this was considered a quick and (ideally) painless death --this was usually done privately, unless the crime was very notorious --why were they handled this way? Because the upper classes were given more of a chance to preserve their dignity; the entire sense of propriety of the Roman class system was biased this way “Fatal charades”: theatricalized executions --“fatal charades” is the term one scholar, Kathleen Coleman, has come up with to describe executions that were conducted as reenactments of mythological stories in which the character dies (this is the same scholar who was the advisor to the film “Gladiator,” by the way, although she became so annoyed at all the liberties the filmmakers took that she demanded her name be taken out of the credits!)
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