The Lure of the Arena: Social Psychology and the Crowd at the Roman Games
Why did the Romans turn out in their tens of thousands to watch brutal gladiatorial games? Previous studies have tried to explain the attraction of the arena by theorizing about its cultural function in Roman society. The games have been seen as celebrations of the violence of empire or of Rome's martial heritage, or as manifestations of the emperor's power. The desire to watch has therefore been limited to the Roman context and rendered alien to modern sensibilities. Yet the historical record reveals that people living in quite different times and circumstances (including our own) have regularly come out in large numbers to watch public rituals of violence such as executions, floggings, animal-baiting, cudgeling, pugilism and so on. Appreciating the social-psychological dynamics at work in attracting people to watch such events not only deepens our understanding of the spectator at the Roman games but also suggests something important about ourselves.
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Alypius in the stands
chapter 1 Seeking explanations
chapter 2 A catalog of cruelty
chapter 3 Groups crowds and seats
chapter 4 Crowd dynamics at arena spectacles
chapter 5 Arenas of prejudice
chapter 6 Gladiators and sports spectatorship
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affective dispositions amphitheater analysis Ancient Rome Androclus animals appear arena crowd arena spectators Arvals athletes attitudes audience beasts behavior Cambridge cavea century chapter Christian Martyrs Cicero circus Coleman Colosseum combat sports Commodus condemned context crowd dynamics crowd’s cultural cunei cuneus death display EAOR elephants elite emotional Empire entertainment evidence excitement execution victims experience fighters fights freeborn gladiatorial bouts gladiatorial games gladiatorial spectacles gladiators Gladiatorum Paria Gladiature Greek group processes hanging Hermes historical human hunts ibid ingroup inscriptions instance Intergroup killed London ludi maenianum Magerius modern mosaic munera munus murmillo Musurillo Nero Note outgroups Oxford performers Pliny podium Pompeii popular prejudice prisoners public executions punishment quam Reicher retiarius riot rituals Roman arena Sabbatini Tumolesi seats slaves social identity Social Psychology society spectaculum spectators staged status Suet Suetonius suggests theater Thracian venatio violence violent spectacle watch Zillmann Zliten