Cover image for Spectacles of death in ancient Rome
Spectacles of death in ancient Rome
Kyle, Donald G.
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Publication Information:
London ; New York : Routledge, 1998.
Physical Description:
xii, 288 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Introduction : violent spectacles and Roman civilization -- The phenomenon : the development and diversity of Roman spectacles of death -- The victims : differentiation, status, and supply -- Death, disposal, and damnation of humans : some methods and messages -- Disposal from Roman arenas : some rituals and options -- Arenas and eating : corpses and carcasses as food? -- Rituals, spectacles, and the Tiber River -- Christians : persecutions and disposal -- Conclusion : hunts and homicides as spectacles of death.
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HQ1073.5.R66 K95 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The elaborate and inventive slaughter of humans and animals in the arena fed an insatiable desire for violent spectacle among the Roman people. Donald G. Kyle combines the words of ancient authors with current scholarly research and cross-cultural perspectives, as he explores
* the origins and historical development of the games
* who the victims were and why they were chosen
* how the Romans disposed of the thousands of resulting corpses
* the complex religious and ritual aspects of institutionalised violence
* the particularly savage treatment given to defiant Christians.
This lively and original work provides compelling, sometimes controversial, perspectives on the bloody entertainments of ancient Rome, which continue to fascinate us to this day.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The amphitheater, a truly Roman structure, and the games it held symbolize all that is both repellent and fascinating about imperial Rome. In recent decades, following Roland Auguet's Cruelty and Civilization (1972), scholars have begun to consider the wider implications of the games (see Carlin Barton's The Sorrows of the Ancient Romans, CH, May'93, and Alison Futrell's Blood in the Arena, CH, Jun'98). Kyle has benefited enormously from their works, but he has produced something quite different. He begins with the arresting question, "What did they do with the bodies?" and retains throughout a refreshingly practical approach (when, where, who, how) to the games, even as he broaches the larger issues: religious origins; gladiatorial combat as dramatization of imperial dominion; the victims' social identities; how the dead were treated and why. His account is vivid, readable, and packed with detail, but in a way that keeps the nonspecialist reader discreetly informed. His endnotes are so thorough that they may well serve as a de facto reference work for all future studies of the games. An enjoyable and essential work. All levels. C. M. C. Green; University of Iowa

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 Introduction: Violent Spectacles and Roman Civilizationp. 1
Notesp. 20
2 The Phenomenon: the Development and Diversity of Roman Spectacles of Deathp. 34
3 The Victims: Differentiation, Status, and Supplyp. 76
4 Death, Disposal, and Damnation of Humans: Some Methods and Messagesp. 128
Notesp. 140
5 Disposal from Roman Arenas: Some Rituals and Optionsp. 155
6 Arenas and Eating: Corpses and Carcasses as Food?p. 184
7 Rituals, Spectacles, and the Tiber Riverp. 213
Notesp. 228
8 Christians: Persecutions and Disposalp. 242
Notesp. 255
9 Conclusion: Hunts and Homicides as Spectacles of Deathp. 265
Referencesp. 272
Indexp. 282