Lecture 30 Roman Recreation.docx

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Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2300
Charles Stocking

Lecture 30 Roman Recreation Roman Recreation/Leisure “Leisure is a system of symbols which acts to establish a feeling of freedom and pleasure by formulating a sense of choice and desire.” (Toner, Leisure and Ancient Rome, p17) - Otium = leisure time - Negotium = business/not otium - Otium is the primary concept – not work Cicero, (Roman Politician of the Republic) De Oratore 1.1: “As I frequently contemplate and call to mind the times of old, those in general seem to me, brother Quintus, to have been supremely happy, who, while they were distinguished with honours and the glory of their actions in the best days of the republic, were enabled to pursue such a course of life, that they could continue either in employment without danger, or in leisure with dignity. To myself, also, there was a time when I thought that a season for relaxation, and for turning my thoughts again to the noble studies once pursued by both of us, would be fairly allowable, and be conceded by almost every one; if the infinite labour of forensic business and the occupations of ambition should be brought to a stand, either by the Otium cum Dignitate: Pliny, Panegyric (for Trajan), 82.8-9: “For it is by a man’s pleasures – his pleasures indeed – that his sense of dignity, integrity and moderation can best be judged. For who is so dissolute that no trace of seriousness is to be found in his pastimes? Our leisure (otium) gives us away.” Otium as a means of self-definition: Elites in charge of otium for lower class: Cicero, On the Republic 1.52 “It is essential for those who are looking after the state that the people be very happy and devoid of all concern and contemplation, having handed their leisure over to others (aliis permisso otio suo) who must look after it and who must not make the mistake of having the people think that their leaders are neglecting their comforts (commoda)’’. Cicero, Pro Murena 39: “But if we ourselves who are kept by our business from public pleasure and are able to find many other pleasures in the work itself, if we nevertheless are delighted and attracted to games, why are you amazed at the ignorant masses?’’ Elite take part in lower class otium: Disdain for the otium of fitness: Seneca, Letter to Lucius,56.1-2 “Here I am, surrounded by all kinds of noise (my lodgings overlook a Bath). Conjure up in your imagination all the sounds that make one hate one's ears. I hear the grunts of musclemen exercising and jerking those heavy weights around; they are working hard, or pretending to. I hear their sharp hissing when they release their pent breath. If there happens to be a lazy fellow content with a simple massage I hear the slap of hand on shoulder; you can tell whether it's hitting a flat or a hollow. If a ball-player comes up and starts calling out his score, I'm done for. Add to this the racket of a cocky bastard, a thief caught in the act, and a fellow who likes the sound of his own voice in the bath, plus those who plunge into the pool with a huge splash of water. Besides those who just have loud voices, imagine the skinny armpit-hair plucker whose cries are shrill so as to draw people's attention and never stop except when he's doing his job and making someone else shriek for him.” Weightlifting - Ancient Greek stone lifting – 6 century BCE - Island of Thera: Eumastas of Kritoboulos – 400kg = 880lbs - Olympia: Bubo – 143kg = 315lbs - Halters were used as precursors to dumbells Roman Ball Games Description of Harpastum in Athenaeus “Antiphanes describes the game thus: ‘He seized the ball and passed it with a laugh to one, while the other player he dodged; from one he pushed it out of the way, while he raised another player to his feet amid resounding shouts of ‘out of bounds’ ‘too far’ ‘right beside him
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