Spectacle of Itself:
Display of Roman Identity in Text and Art
of Washington Rome Center, Palazzo Pio Campus
Spring Quarter 2002
The 2002 Latin Seminar in Rome will be, A Spectacle of Itself: the
Display of Roman Identity in Text and Art. This seminar will
investigate the ways in which the literary displays of ancient Rome (theatrical,
oratorical, convivial, triumphal and ludic) helped forge—and were forged
by—the Roman literary expressions of civic and self-identity. Although
primarily a literary (and text-based) seminar, our interests will include
the spatial construction of cultural identity as well as the definitively
physical role played by the urbs in the construction of a
Roman sense of self, and so this seminar will find natural kinship with
the concurrently taught topography seminar, Latin 465. Latin readings
will be organized thematically, and include short selections from e.g.
Plautus (theatrical display), Cicero and Quintilian (oratorical display),
Catullus and Petronius (convivial display), and Livy, Ovid, and Plutarch
(triumphal and, in the case of Ovid, ludic display). Secondary readings
will include excerpts from recent works on Roman performance, display,
and identity as well as some consideration of relevant theoretical approach.
The Latin 565 seminar will meet from 4:00 to 5:30 in the Pio seminar room,
Tuesday and Thursday during the Spring term unless otherwise advised.
Regular, prepared, and enthusiastic participation is absolutely mandatory
for success in this seminar (and indeed the program as a whole) and will
therefore be expected save cases of dire emergency. Gelatto is not
a dire emergency. Espresso is close, but still no cigar. Be
We shall gather for our first meeting on Thursday, 4 April—two days after
students are to have arrived in Rome—at the regular time and place.
Syllabi and further course details will be distributed at that time.
Students are expected to have read all assigned material (primary
as well as secondary readings, when applicable) by the beginning of the
class period for which it is due, and to have prepared for each class a
short page of notes, questions, and responses on the material to aid in
During the course of the term, each student will present to the class one
short (ca. 20 minute) presentation on a topic (and readings) relevant to
the course, and there will be a brief final project.
Primary Readings Course Packet (including text and translations
of our primary Latin texts; see above)
Secondary Readings Course Packet, including articles and relevent
book chapters from:
Barton, Sorrows of the Ancient Romans: The Gladiator and the Monster.
Bergmann and Kondoleon, eds., The Art of Ancient Spectacle.
Washington D.C. (1999)
Bremmer and Roodenburg, eds., A Cultural History of Gesture.
Csapo and Slater, eds., The Context of Ancient Drama. Michigan
Dominik, ed., Roman Eloquence: Rhetoric in Society and Literature.
Futrell, Blood in the Arena: the Spectacle of Roman Power.
Slater, ed., Dining in a classical context. Michigan (1991)
Vasaly, Representations: Images of the World in Ciceronian Oratory.
Versnel, Triumphus; an inquiry into the origin, development and meaning
of the Roman triumph. Leiden (1970)