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Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World / Edition 1

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The second edition of Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World updates Donald G. Kyle’s award-winning introduction to this topic, covering the Ancient Near East up to the late Roman Empire.

• Challenges traditional scholarship on sport and spectacle in the Ancient World and debunks claims that there were no sports before the ancient Greeks

• Explores the cultural exchange of Greek sport and Roman spectacle and how each culture responded to the other’s entertainment

• Features a new chapter on sport and spectacle during the Late Roman Empire, including Christian opposition to pagan games and the Roman response

• Covers topics including violence, professionalism in sport, class, gender and eroticism, and the relationship of spectacle to political structures

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of the 2008 Book Award of the North American Society for Sport History

"A masterful compendium of our current state of knowledge in the ever-expanding field of ancient sport, covering a wide range of historical periods and civilizations. As such, Sport and Spectacle will become an indispensable work of reference for students in courses on ancient sport and researchers who are not very familiar with the field. At the same time, Kyle is cognizant of the latest scholarship and engages with it closely, often in an insightful and original manner. As a result, Sport and Spectacle is also an invaluable scholarly contribution ... In short, this is a book written with knowledge, enthusiasm and wit. It will be enjoyed and employed for decades to come."
International Journal of the History of Sport

“A pioneer in the resurgence of research on Greek sport … No-one is better qualified to write an English-language synthesis on sport and spectacle in the ancient world. This book does not disappoint … Whatever place and time Kyle examines, fresh and persuasive insights abound.”
Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"Here one will find not only impressive breadth of coverage (from 2000 BC Mesopotamia to the banning of gladiatorial combats in AD 404), but also detailed analysis based upon a solid theoretical platform of ancient sport studies."
Greece and Rome

“There are many plums in this rich and well-illustrated pudding of a book. . . Do not hesitate to put in your thumb.” Paul Cartledge, Times Higher Education Supplement

“Donald Kyle has given us both a broad overview and a richly detailed examination of ancient sport. It is a mature work, the result of a lifetime of research into the subject, and an extremely important addition to it. This book brings us the current status of our knowledge and will have lasting importance.”
Stephen G. Miller, University of California, Berkeley

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631229711
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 12/14/2007
  • Series: Ancient Cultures Series
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 424
  • Sales rank: 866,443
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald G. Kyle is Professor, former Chair of History, and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. He is the author of Athletics in Ancient Athens (1987), Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome (1998), Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World (Wiley-Blackwell 2007); and co-editor (with Paul Christesen) of A Companion to Sport and Spectacle in Greek and Roman Antiquity (Wiley-Blackwell 2014).

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

List of Figures

List of Maps

List of Tables

Introduction: Ancient Sport History

Why Sport History?

Word Games: Conceptualizing Sport and Spectacle

Challenges: Evidence, Chronology, and Modernism

Sports and Spectacles as Cultural Performances

Greece and Rome: Positive and Negative Classicism

Sports as Spectacle, Spectacles as Sport

1. Origins and Essences: Early Sport and Spectacle

Mesopotamian Combat Sports and Running

Egypt: Hunting and Sporting Pharaohs

Royal Hunts as a Near Eastern Tradition

States and Sports, Empires and Spectacles

2. Late Bronze Age Minoans, Hittites, and Mycenaeans

Minoan Performances: Rites, Contests, or Spectacles?

Hittite Contests?

Mycenaean Contests?

A Sporting Mediterranean World

3. Sport in Homer: Contests, Prizes, and Honor

Funeral Games for Patroklos: Prizes and Reconciliation

The Odyssey: Sport and Returning Home

Epic Sport as Spectacle

4. Archaic Greece: Athletics in an Age of Change

Athletic Festivals: Types and Terms

Factors and Features in the Growth of Athletics Gymnasiums, Hoplites, and Society

Nudity, Status, and Democracy

Men, Boys, and Erotic Pursuits

The Coming of Age of Greek Sport

5. In Search of the Ancient Olympics

The Olympics of Allusion and Illusion

Modern Myths and Invented Traditions

The Quagmire of Olympic Origins: Explanations and Excavations

6. Ancient Olympia and its Games

The Physical Context: Sanctuary and Facilities

The Olympic Festival: Operation and Administration

The Program of Contests

Olympia and Spectacle: Politics, Problems, and Performances

7. Panhellenic Sacred Crown Games and More

Pythian Games

Isthmian Games

Nemean Games

Variations: Local or Civic Games

8. Athens: City of Contests and Prizes

The Panathenaic Games: Sacred and Civic Athletics

More Athletic Festivals and Athletic Facilities

The Sociopolitical History of Athenian Sport

Contestation, Critics, and Popular Attitudes

9. Spartan Sport and Physical Education

Physical Education: Building the Body Politic

Spartan Athletics

Kyniska: Gender, Politics, and Racing Chariots at Olympia

Not So Strange Greeks

10. Athletes in Greek Society: Heroes, Motives, Access

Athletic Stars and Stories

Pindar on Victory and Glory

Athletes, Social History, and Democratization

11. Females and Greek Sport

Early Greece: Epic and Myth

Spartan Female Sport

Athenian Girls? Races or Rites

The Heraia at Olympia

The Olympic Ban on Women

Hellenistic Females and Competition

Female Athletics in the Roman Empire

12. Macedon and Hellenistic Sport and Spectacle

Philip II: Proclaiming Greekness through Games

Alexander the Great: Conquests and Spectacular Games

Hellenistic Sport and Spectacle

The Hellenistic Legacy

13. Early Roman Festivals, Celebrations, and Games

Etruscan Sport and Spectacle: Ethnicity, Greek Gifts, Roman Roots?

Roman Festivals and Entertainments

Chariot Racing at Rome

Triumphs: Spectacles of Military Victory

Hunts and Beasts: Conquests and Games

Gladiators: Roman Rites and Combats

Early Romans and Greek Sport

Roman-Hellenistic Spectacular Discourse

14. Late Republic and Augustus: Spectacles, Popular Politics, and Empire

The Meaning of Gladiatorial Combat: Infamy and Virtue

Sulla, Pompey, and Caesar: Magnificence and Munificence

Augustus: Consolidation and Imperial Rule through Shows

15. Spectacle, Sport, and the Roman Empire

Emperors, Spectacles, and Scandals

Days at the Track: Chariot Racing

Imperial Triumphs

Gladiators, Arenas, and Empire

Beast Hunts: Nature and Empire

Spectacular Executions: Criminals, Beasts, and Social Order

Greek Games in the Roman Empire

Professional Athletes: Guilds, Prizes, and Hadrian

Assimilation and Accommodation

16. Later Sports and Spectacles: Romans, Christians, and Byzantines

Christian Opposition to Pagan Spectacles

Roman Reactions to Christians

The Waning of Institutionalized Shows in the West

Chariot Racing in the Christian Byzantine Empire

Conclusion: Ancient Sport and Spectacle


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