Garrett Fagan: How to Stage a Bloodbath

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    "Pollice Verso" Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872. Oil on canvas. Collection of…


Garrett Fagan: How to Stage a Bloodbath


Thursday Feb 06 07:30 PM


Doris Duke Theatre

About the Lecture:

Archeological Institute of America | National Lecture by Garrett Fagan
How to Stage a Bloodbath: Artificiality and Theatricality in the Roman Arena


Learn about arena spectacles—and why the producers of games went to such lengths to theatricalize them. Drawing on a wealth of iconographic, epigraphic, and literary evidence, Fagan surveys the scale and variety of stage sets, artificial scenery, and other apparatus used to enhance the spectacle. Not only were installations built to accommodate sets, but amphitheatral staff were specially dedicated to overseeing their proper deployment. Beyond the raw wonder stage sets elicited from spectators, they played an important role in making the violence of the games palatable and acceptable: the sets—along with the overall constructed environment, performers’ costumes, the musical accompaniment, the added attractions (acrobats, animal performers, mock fighters, prize distributions)—set the brutality into an artificial and theatrical context for the spectators, and as such played an analogous role for the way violence is similarly framed in modern entertainment.

About Professor Garrett Fagan
Professor Garrett G. Fagan has taught at Pennsylvania State University since 1996. Born in Dublin, Ireland, and educated at Trinity College Dublin, he received his Ph.D. from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, and has an extensive research record in Roman history, Latin epigraphy, and method in archaeology. He has held a prestigious Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship at the University of Cologne. His first monograph, Bathing in Public in the Roman World, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 1999. He has also edited a volume on the phenomenon of pseudoarchaeology (2006), and has forthcoming works on Roman baths and water use, and the Roman arena.

Pictured above left: Pollice Verso, Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872. Oil on canvas. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Museum purchase.

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