Lecture 28 Spectacle and the Roman Empire.docx

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Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2300
Charles Stocking

Lecture 28 Spectacle and the Roman Empire Roman Emperors Julio-Claudian Emperors - Augustus 27 BCE – 14 CE - Caligula 37-41 CE o Characterized by cruelty, sadism, extravagance and intense sexual perversity o Stories of incest and prostitution of siblings; had most of his family murdered or exiled o Had a statue of himself erected in the Temple of Jerusalem to be worshipped o First official emperor to be assassinated by Praetorian Guard - Nero 54-68 CE o Last of Julio-Claudians o Vain, insane, power-hungry o Had his mother executed o Divorced his first wife and exiled her so he could remarry; then brought her back from exile to have her executed; kicked his second wife to death o 64 CE Great Fire of Rome o 67 CE Ordered a young ex-slave to be castrated and married him o Nero committed suicide when he was declared an enemy of the state The Flavians - Vespasian 69-79 CE o Known for military exploits  Roman invasion of Britain in 43 CE  Subjugated Judea during the Jewish Revolt in 66 CE o Responsible for beginning construction of the Flavian Amphitheater (aka Colosseum) The “Five Good Emperors”: Machiavelli: “From the study of this history we may also learn how a good government is to be established; for while all the emperors who succeeded to the throne by birth, except Titus were bad, all were good who succeeded by adoption, as in the case of the five from Nerva to Marcus. But as soon as the empire fell once more to the heirs by birth, its ruin recommenced.” Nervan-Antonian Dynasty (the good) - Trajan 98-117 CE o Extensive building program – Trajan Colun, Trajan’s Forum, Trajan’s Market o Undiminished popular appeal throughout history – “wist, just, and moral man” Bread and Games Juvenal: “Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things----Bread and Games!” Marcus Cornelius Fronto “The Emperor Trajan knew that the Roman people are held in control principally by two things– free grain and shows– that political support depends as much on the entertainments as on matters of serious import, that…neglect of the entertainments brings damning unpopularity, that gifts are less eagerly and ardently longed for than shows, and finally, that gifts placate only the common people on the grain dole, singly and individually, but shows placate everyone.” - Games were more important than the free food as everyone cares about the games, but the only people who care about the free food are those who can’t afford food Expansion of the “Entertainment Industry” of the Roman Empire Early Empire = 159 total festival days - Under Augustus 27 BCE -14 CE – 65 days of Games - Under Claudius 41-54 CE – 93 days of Games Later Empire = 230 total festival days - Marcus Aurelius 161-180 CE – 135 days of Games Circus Maximus -150,000 spectators Collosseum - 50,000 spectators Emperors on Display in Roman Spectacle Augustus – Ideal emperor and spectator - Always attentive to spectacles (ill or healthy); attended shows even up to the days before his death - Cultivated talent through Gladitorial schools - No combats sine missione - Encouraged elites to perform (in various capacities) in Roman spectacle Suetonius Caligula, 26-27 At a gladiatorial munus, when the sun was blazing and the awnings had been put out, he would sometimes insist that they be taken off, and forbid anyone to leave. He would exhibit the cheapest, second-rate beasts and gladiators grown old and sick. He would make men with physical disabilities fight, even if they were respectable, free citizens. And sometimes he would close the granaries and announce that the people would starve. Caligula’s Cruelty and Control in Spectacle Suetonius, Caligula 55: He was so extravagantly fond of the party of charioteers whose colours were green, that he ate and lodged for some time constantly in the stable where their horses were kept. At a certain revel, he made a present of two million sesterces to one Cythicus, a driver of a chariot. The day before the Circensian games, he used to send his soldiers to enjoin silence in the neighbourhood, that the repose of his horse Incitatus, might not be disturbed. For this favourite animal, in addition to giving a marble stable, an ivory manger, purple housings, and a jewelled frontlet, he appointed a house, with a retinue of slaves, and fine furniture, for the reception of those who were invited in the horse's name to eat with him. It is even said that he Caligula – Emperors on Display in Roman Spectacle Nero at Olympia - To improve Roman relations with Greece, Nero competed in the 67 BCE Olympic Games Suetonius, Nero, 24 “That no mem
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