What Garret Fagan is Up To

Our fellow McMaster alum is giving the Davis Lecture at Samford University … from the Crimson:

There will be blood at this year’s Davis lecture.

Dr. Garrett G. Fagan will deliver “Watching the Fighters: Exploring the Roman Fascination with Gladiatorial Combat.” He will be discussing how the Roman ideas of sport translate into the modern American spectacle. The free lecture is October 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wright Center.

“We are Roman in so many ways–especially in how we relate to sports” said the history department’s Dr. Jason Wallace.

Wallace has arranged the Davis Lecture for the past five years.

Wallace is looking forward to hearing Fagan’s ideas on how the Romans’ “ritualized violence” in the form of gladiatorial games.

He sees clear correlations in American football and other sports.

“It’s like we have to satisfy that aggressive side of our nature….I watch football with my kids and see a bad hit, and tell them, ‘It’s a violent game.’” said Wallace.

Wallace sees connections to the “hero worship” of modern sports stars, as well. A gladiator was held above his fellow men if he performed well in the arena, just as sports celebrities like Chad Ochocinco, Tim Tebow or Dwyane Wade are celebrated and emulated for their accomplishments on the field or on the court.

Fagan is an associate professor of classics and Mediterranean studies at Pennsylvania State University. He has been featured on the History Channel and Nova. Fagan has also produced multiple courses for The Teaching Company on ancient Rome, Roman emperors and ancient warfare.

Fagan will be lecturing out of his new book, The Lure of the Arena. He will be selling and signing copies after the event.

The Davis lecture series began thanks to an endowment from former Howard College of Arts and Sciences Dean and English professor J. Roderick Davis. The lectures have brought internationally reknowned figures such as Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and Dr. Kevin Davies, founding editor of Nature Genetics. This will be the ninth year for the series.

The Davis lecture also counts for a Convocation Credit in the Academic Lecture category.

Scott Simpson, an undeclared sophomore says he will attend the lecture.

“Gladiators are awesome. I know [Dr. Fagan] from the History Channel,” Simpson said.

Freshman music major Mark Ortiz is “very much so” interested in gladiators. He cannot wait to hear Dr. Fagan’s lecture.

Even more than gaining a deeper knowledge of the Roman games and lifestyle, Wallace hopes that students will leave the lecture with a better understanding of themselves.

“Games tell us something about ourselves and what we value. We need to remember there is a human side,” Wallace said.

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