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Roman spectacle

Barry McNamara
09/09/2010
Hazel Dodge, a senior lecturer in classical archaeology at Trinity College in Ireland, will present the first archaeology lecture of the academic year on Sept. 16.

Titled “Roman Spectacle in the Greek East,” the free talk will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Morgan Room of Poling Hall. It is sponsored by the MC Classics Department, in cooperation with the Western Illinois Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA).

Since the 19th century, there has been a widely-held view that the Greek provinces of the Roman Empire, with their long history of philosophy and culture, were somehow more “civilized” than the Western provinces. It was therefore assumed that these provinces did not take part in the bloodsports, such as gladiatorial displays, that were found in other parts of the Roman world.

“Why should this be?” asks Dodge. “It is partly because of the hierarchy in which western scholarship since the 18th century has ranked Greek and Roman cultures. More recently Hollywood has perpetuated this in such films as ‘Spartacus’ and ‘Gladiator,’ which emphasize the violence and barbarity of the Roman arena with little reference to the original social and political context of the spectacles.”

In her lecture, Dodge will review the evidence for Roman spectacles in the eastern Mediterranean, as well as the venues which were developed to accommodate them.

Dodge holds her degrees from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Her specialties include the construction techniques of the Roman Empire, Greek and Roman cities and urbanization, classical marble trade and use, and spectacle in the Roman world. Her recent publications include “Spectacle in the Roman World” (2010),“Building Materials and Constructions at Leptiminus, Tunisia” (to be published in 2010) and “Ancient Rome: A Sourcebook” (2010, with J.C.N. Coulson and C.J. Smith).