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The Game of Death in Ancient Rome: Arena Sport and Political Suicide - Wisconsin Studies in Classics (Hardback)
  • The Game of Death in Ancient Rome: Arena Sport and Political Suicide - Wisconsin Studies in Classics (Hardback)
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The Game of Death in Ancient Rome: Arena Sport and Political Suicide - Wisconsin Studies in Classics (Hardback)

(author)
£41.95
Hardback 296 Pages / Published: 30/06/1995
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Our taste for blood sport stops short at the bruising clash of football players or the gloved blows of boxers, and the suicide of a politician is no more than a personal tragedy. What, then, are we to make of the ancient Romans, for whom the meaning of sport and politics often depended on death? In this provocative book, Paul Plass shows how the deadly violence of arena sport and political suicide served a social purpose in ancient Rome. His work offers a reminder of the complex uses to which institutionalised violence can be put. Massive bloodshed in the gladiatorial arena, Plass argues, embodied the element of danger for a society frequently engaged in war, with outsiders (whether slaves, criminals or prisoners of war) sacrificed for a sense of public security. A more individual form of socialised violence was political suicide, an endgame to the deadly competition for power played out by the emperor and his opposition. Using game theory as a model, Plass spells out the rules implicit in Roman political suicide, either enforced by the emperor or carried out in protest by opponents. However efficiently violence was accommodated in Rome through arena sport and political suicide, observers like Seneca and Tacitus also detected deep contradiction in extravagant, socially sanctioned mayhem with anti-social consequences and in public careers paradoxically crowned by voluntary enforced suicide.

Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
ISBN: 9780299145705
Number of pages: 296
Weight: 621 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm

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