One of my summer projects is to get as many of these documentaries lurking in Youtube on rogueclassicism (and possibly in some form of revived AWOTV newsletter) … I’m not sure how long they’ll be available, so I’ll provide a bit of added value in the form of a semi-review. So here goes:
When Rome Ruled: Secrets of the Gladiators (IMDB)
This one is excellent and really is one of the better made-for-tv-documentaries on this subject; it does have the now-common reenactment sort of stuff, but it isn’t the main focus. There is much presentation of artifacts with scholarly, rather than sensational, explanations … the talking heads are very high quality folk:
Here’s my outline of sorts (with less detail as it goes on):
- the focus will be on opening of the Colosseum
- political/social setting of Vespasian’s and Titus’ time
- Colosseum engineering (including the geometry of the amphitheatre)
- image consciousness of the Flavians
- plenty of building stats; funded with spoils from Jerusalem
- the origins of gladiatorial bouts; Rome borrows from other cultures
- importance of games for politicians
- nice treatment of the naumachia question
- nice treatment of the awning question (and the recreation is how I actually imagined it)
- gladiator life (training, weapons, etc.)
- 1/6 chance of dying << whence that statistic?
- social groupings in the stadium
- “damnio ad bestios” << ouch!
- concludes with Martial’s ‘eyewitness account’ (a translation of the relevant section of de spectaculis)
** the above video abruptly ends, but it doesn’t sound like there was more than a sentence or two left.