Synopses & Reviews
The presentations in the theater, gladiatorial combats, chariot races in the circus, animal hunts, triumphal processions, and other public entertainments of early imperial Rome served as tangible expressions of Roman ideology and power. This engagingly written book describes these lavish spectacles, traces their evolution under Rome's political masters from Caesar to Nero, and discusses their social and political significance.Drawing on primary accounts of ancient historians as well as on archaeological evidence, Richard C. Beacham examines the stagecraft of Roman statecraft, providing illuminating accounts of such episodes as the intensely theatrical rivalry of Caesar and Pompey, Augustus's performance in what the Princeps himself called the mime of life, and the demented antics of Caligula. He shows how Roman politicians and emperors created awesome spectacles of mass appeal in a potent exercise of demagoguery. He argues that the Roman people in turn jealously guarded their right to be entertained, regarding the theater, circus, and arena as political venues in which to demonstrate their power and vent their opinions.