Cruelty and Civilization: The Roman Games
'Cruelty and civilization' offers an in-depth look at the Roman games as a force vital to the functioning of an Empire. Gladiatorial combats, chariot races and other spectacles were a kind of public opiate for the citizens of Ancient Rome. These rites gave rhythm and excitement to daily life in the Empire. From one year to the next, the Roman citizen lived in anticipation of the next games; through them he was able to forget the mediocrity of his own condition as well as his political enslavement. The most minutely organized productions were staged at vast expense, and Rome developed cults for arena champions, who were simultaneously idols and outcasts, doomed to a bloody death. Roland Auguet not only reconstructs in detail the conduct of these spectacles (gladiatorial combats, the sacrifice of prisoners to wild beasts, the chariot races, the combats between man and beast or beast and beast), but also analyzes the feelings of the crowd and the calculations of its rulers. He explainswhy the games dominated the life of the city. Examining the games in the context of a broader study of Roman customs, this book provides a synthesized view of how Roman civilization was to a large degree based on the games.
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