spectacle_lecture_12_3_09 - Lecture notes 12/3/09:...

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Lecture notes 12/3/09: gladiatorial combat: politics and sociology first, we’ll have our last quiz then, we’ll do evaluations then, we’ll watch the bit of “Spartacus” that I was building up to on Tuesday: Spartacus and a fellow member of the ludus (Draba, played by Woody Strode) have to fight to the death --what do I mean by the “politics and sociology” of gladiatorial combat? --by “politics,” I mean the ways in which gladiatorial combat turned the arena into a political space , by making possible: moments in which the emperor (or other editor ) could make political statements or earn “political capital” with the crowd of spectators moments in which the crowd could express its will (with respect to gladiators’ performances, but also with respect to the emperor) and try to force the editor to do what it wanted and even moments in which individual gladiators could make political statements --by “sociology,” I mean the social structures that informed: the conventions of the relationship between the editor , the spectators, and the gladiators the status of gladiators the significance of gladiators for the crowd watching them Politics The Republican period --presenting gladiatorial munera was a well-established way for a rising politician to win favor with the public, something that’s called building “political capital”; your book quotes a speech from Cicero about one politician’s gladiatorial munera that concludes, “Do I need to point out that the people and the ignorant masses adore games? It is hardly surprising that they do” --Julius Caesar, for example, gave munera that went down in history as sensational, exciting, lavish, and thrilling, because he was trying to win public support for an essentially unprecedented political position (that of de facto king); his munera , therefore, really set the bar high for future editors --gladiatorial games (unlike other ludi , like plays) were not part of the official list of duties of any public official, so there was no public financing for them; the politician/editor had to pay for them himself --the expenditure on these munera was staggering; Caesar was in massive debt before he ever held significant public office, and it just got worse as the years went on --yet most of these politicians felt it was money well spent; nothing succeeded with the public like munera --the Senate tried to control politicians’ spending on munera in the later Republican period (in part by bringing politicians up on bribery charges for offenses like giving away good seats at gladiatorial combats to potential voters), and even tried to limit access to gladiators, but to limited effect
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This note was uploaded on 11/30/2010 for the course BIOS 101 taught by Professor Plantz during the Spring '08 term at UNL.

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spectacle_lecture_12_3_09 - Lecture notes 12/3/09:...

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