?The contagion of the throng?: absorbing violence in the Roman world
This essay examines the spectacles of the Roman amphitheatre as an example of orchestrated violence integral to the functioning of society, and tries to account for their spectator-appeal. The evidence of literary, epigraphic, and artistic sources from the Roman Empire suggests a range of important factors: the ubiquity of violent crime in Antiquity, and of its corollary, public punishment; the social status of gladiators and the expertise required of them; the view of Nature as a spectacle provided for mankind; the loss of inhibition among spectators through crowd-identity and emotional stimuli; the provision of spectacles as a function of patronage; the role of spectacle in the Roman economy; and the whereby the dominant power has to assert its physical and moral superiority in order to sustain its ideology and control its subject peoples. 1997 by John Wiley Sons, Ltd.
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