Spectacles of Death in the Roman World (HIST 335.3)

Recent/Current Offerings

Syllabus / Public content Section Term Instructor
HIST 335 01 September 2019 Angela Kalinowski
HIST 335 02 January 2019
HIST 335 01 September 2016


Ridley Scott?s film Gladiator (2000) brought the bloodlust of the Roman arena to a 21st century audience. The film appears to confirm that the Romans, especially emperors and the plebeian masses, were a cruel and bloodthirsty lot. Trained killers- gladiators- slaughtered innocent victims, or savage lions mauled and devoured them, all for the pleasure of the Roman people. This course takes a critical look at the varied deadly activities (munera, venationes, damnatio ad bestias), held in the Roman arena by examining ancient textual and visual sources, and modern scholarship. We will examine these spectacles in the broader context of Roman performance culture, religion and politics. Were these spectacles merely the product of a debased and declining culture? How has modern scholarship understood the apparent madness of the Roman arena?


3 credit units 200-level HIST or CLAS


Pre-1815; Europe and Great Britain

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