Rome Inside the Arena: the Social Functionality of Gladiatorial Combat in the Later Republic and Early Imperial Periods

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Stryffeler, Joseph M.
Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity
thesis / dissertation description
The purpose of this study is determining the social functionality of gladiatorial combat during the Later Republic and early Imperial periods. I contend that gladiatorial combat becomes a tool of the aristocratic elite for political gains. In my first chapter I will examine the beginnings of the games in their Etruscan origins as well as the Roman adaptations. I will look at a series of Etruscan art images to understand the precursors of the Roman games. In my second chapter I will examine the political context of the games from 50 BCE to the reign of Domitian. My third chapter will be a creative piece used to illuminate the gladiator's view of the games, and my fourth chapter is a commentary on this piece where I will elaborate upon the major cultural points developed therein. Throughout my study I will examine a series of primary sources from Cicero and Livy to Juvenal and Martial; through their works I hope to show the games in their cultural context. I conclude that the games are an integral part of Roman life, and retain their importance throughout the late Republic and early Imperial periods.