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.