spectacle_lecture_12_1_09

spectacle_lecture_12_1_09 - Lecture notes 12/1/09:...

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Lecture notes 12/1/09: gladiatorial combat: origins and forms Origins of the games --the Ludi Romani became the first regular state-sponsored ludi in the Roman calendar, in 366 BCE --as we’ve talked about, gladiatorial combat was originally presented as part of funeral games for wealthy aristocrats --the Romans believed that they adopted gladiatorial combat from the Etruscans; it’s hard to say whether this is true, since we have so little to go on with the Etruscans --there’s some evidence that gladiatorial combat originated in banqueting customs in south Italy (with the Samnites), where, during later times, the most prestigious gladiatorial training schools were located; the “Samnite” became a type of gladiator --significantly, the first recorded Roman gladiatorial munera took place during the Punic Wars, the major wars Rome fought with Carthage that really made it as a fledgling empire; many scholars think that there was some sort of original religious notion of human blood-sacrifice to appease the dead person at their funeral, and to bring the community together, which would be especially urgently felt during times of national crisis --one origin we do know: the word gladiator comes from gladius , “sword” A day at the games --sponsor of the show = editor --gladiatorial schools = ludi (I know, I know, this is the same term for “games” in general…) --head of gladiatorial school = lanista --the editor and the lanista would hash out a contract to put on a show with X number of gladiators at X time in X venue; they would also decide on the skill levels of the various gladiators and on which bouts (if any) would be fought to the death --the munera would be advertised with detailed painted signs --shortly before the appointed day, the editor would circulate a program with the matches listed and the types and records of the various gladiators (this enabled people to bet) --the night before the munera , the gladiators were given a banquet, which seems to have been public (and thus part of the show); this is an interesting bit of mimicry of aristocratic culture at a very lower-class level (most gladiators were slaves) --on the day of the munera , the show began with a pompa (procession) – just like before the chariot races and all other shows – only this one included the gladiators about to fight, as well as all the other usual political and religious images --there’s a cliché that the end of the pompa featured the gladiators facing the emperor (or the editor , if he wasn’t the emperor) and saying, “Hail, (Caesar): those who are about to die salute you” – but we only have 1 recorded instance of fighters saying this in antiquity, and it was the participants in the emperor Claudius’ naumachia , not gladiators! So that’s an image that has come down to us from much later Romantic writings and from the movies; try to mentally erase it… --then the bouts would happen, each announced by an announcer, with big signs circulated around the arena for those who couldn’t hear the announcer
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spectacle_lecture_12_1_09 - Lecture notes 12/1/09:...

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