Greek Olympians and Roman Gladiators: Divergent Notions of Sport, Spectacle and Violence in the Classical World
Angela Ziskowski, Associate Professor of History
March 2 & 9
The ancient Greeks had the Olympics. The Romans had their gladiators. These events have left a disproportionate imprint on modern society’s impressions of these two ancient cultures. In this two-week forum, Associate Professor of History Angela Ziskowski will examine how competition, public entertainment and sportsmanship varied among the ancient Greeks and Romans. Week one will focus on the Greeks, explaining the influence of the ancient Near East on Greek notions of honor and competition and how the epics of Homer allow us to understand how competitive games came into being and whether they were a replacement for war. We will discuss the institutionalization of the Panhellenic games, a set of four athletic events held at the Greek-god religious sanctuaries of Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia and Nemea that created the framework for our modern Olympics. In week two, we will explore how Roman notions of sport and spectacle developed as well as diverged in fundamental ways from the Greeks and Etruscans. We will take a close look at “the bread and circuses” entertainment put on by Roman emperors of the time, including their deadly chariot-racing and bloodthirsty gladiatorial games. Throughout the forum, we will consider what constituted socially acceptable forms of sport and entertainment in these two fascinating and influential cultures.
The History of Sport in the United States
Larry Atwater, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology
March 23 & 30
This two-week forum will introduce audiences to the history of sport in the United States during the recent past. Focusing on the period between 1900 and today, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Larry Atwater will explore how sport has long served as a reflection of American society as well as an agent of change in the nation. The series will begin in week one by discussing important themes and events in the history of sport during the first half of the twentieth century. It will pay particular attention to themes of religion, race, ethnicity and gender in the construction of sport culture and the role of sport in broader events like racial segregation, the Great Depression and the two world wars. Week two’s session moves the story through the latter decades of the twentieth century and up to today. It will highlight the influence of sport in and on events like the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the modern women’s movement and examine how developments like television coverage, corporate sponsorship and globalization have influenced both sport and society.