The Game of Death in Ancient Rome: Arena Sport and Political Suicide

The Game of Death in Ancient Rome: Arena Sport and Political Suicide

by Paul Plass
     
 

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    Our taste for blood sport stops short at the bruising clash of football players or the gloved blows of boxers, and the suicide of a politician is no more than a personal tragedy. What, then, are we to make of the ancient Romans, for whom the meaning of sport and politics often depended on death? In this provocative, thoughtful book, Paul Plass

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Overview

    Our taste for blood sport stops short at the bruising clash of football players or the gloved blows of boxers, and the suicide of a politician is no more than a personal tragedy. What, then, are we to make of the ancient Romans, for whom the meaning of sport and politics often depended on death? In this provocative, thoughtful book, Paul Plass shows how the deadly violence of arena sport and political suicide served a social purpose in ancient Rome. His work offers a reminder of the complex uses to which institutionalized violence can be put.
    Violence, Plass observes, is a universal part of human life, and so must be integrated into social order. Grounding his study in evidence from Roman history and drawing on ideas from contemporary sociology and anthropology, he first discusses gladiatorial combat in ancient Rome. Massive bloodshed in the arena, Plass argues, embodied the element of danger for a society frequently engaged in war, with outsiders—whether slaves, criminals, or prisoners of war—sacrificed for a sense of public security

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Plass (classics, U. of Wisconsin-Madison) shows how the deadly violence of arena sport and political suicide served a social purpose in ancient Rome, drawing on ideas from contemporary sociology and anthropology. He discusses gladitorial combat, and spells out the rules implicit in Roman political suicide using game theory as a model. Includes a section of detailed notes describing legal antimony, orgiastic violence, clemency, loss aversion, and degrees of penalty, based on the writings of Tacitus and Seneca. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780299145705
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date:
06/01/1995
Series:
Studies in Classics
Pages:
300
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

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