The Roman arena is often described as an exotic or peripheral institution. Alternatively, it has been seen as a culturally central institution. In this case one traditionally assumes either that the arena is used to pacify the lower classes or that it expresses themes of violence at the heart of Roman society. In the first view the arena's politics are cynical; in the second they are often described as decadent or full of despair. While none of these readings should be neglected, this essay argues that the arena can be examined as a productive institution which helps in the maintenance of Roman social relations from the top to the bottom and from the violent to the banal. When viewed in the light of Louis Althusser's idea of the ideological state apparatus, the arena can be read as political and psychological without recourse to notions of cunning calculation or psychic crisis. The arena is not only normal, but it participates in the production of normativity. This study pays particular attention to the ways in which the arena enables a specific kind of vision of the Roman world. In this vision the Roman nobiles in general and, later, the emperor in particular are reaffirmed as legitimate authorities: the rulers perhaps need the arena more than does the mob. The arena is also a locus at which the relations of domination which subsist between Rome and its subjects and between the sexes are reproduced in both the social and theatrical senses: the arena stages culturally vital spectacles. Indeed the export of the arena into the Roman provinces also entails the exportation of the Roman social structures which the arena serves. The Romanness of the arena is in fact so pervasive that even many of the hostile appraisals of the arena which come to us from antiquity reproduce the hierarchical social vision which the arena enables even as the institution itself is repudiated. Accordingly all representations of the arena need to be read within the logic of the arena itself. The ideology of the arena has no outside.

[Footnotes]

[Footnotes]
1
Satire 11.192-98
Horace Ep. 2.1.185-86
Dio 61.17-2-5
Suet. Gaius, 54
Tac. Ann. 1.77
2
Dio 59.2.5, 61.17.2-5, 62.15, and 67.4.4
Suetonius Jul. 39, Aug. 43
Tib. 7
Gaius 26
Tacitus Ann. 14.14
15.32
15.34
Dial. 29.3
3
Livy, Epit. 16
Valerius Maximus, 2.4.7
Ausonius, Gryphus ternarii numeri, 36-37
Ville 1981.42
Baltrusch 1988
Ville 1981.78-88
Veyne 1976.91
4
Bartsch 1994
Bartsch 1994.50-60
5
Foucault 1979
6
Althusser 1971
7
Eagleton 1991
Jameson 1981
8
Bourdieu 1991.163-70
10
Plato Rep. 607c7
12
Clavel-Lévêque 1986.2554
13
Jameson 1981. 23-58
14
Butler 1990
Butler 1993
15
Althusser 1971.190-93
16
Dupont 1985
17
Nicolet 1976.468
18
Althusser 1971.147
20
Piganion 1923
Le Glay 1990
21
Veyne 1976
22
Robert 1940.8
23
Ville 1981
Ville 1981.9-11 and 1981.15ff
Brown 1992.207
24
Wistrand 1990
25
Barton 1993.20 n. 32
26
Wiedemann 1992
1992.154ff
1992.46-47
1992.180
28
Wiedemann 1992
Wiedemann 1992.3, 14-15, 71ff., and 37
29
Hopkins 1983
1983.21
1983.2, cp
1983.27-29
1983.5
1983.27
1983.29
1983.9
Auget 1972
30
Auget 1972.24, 86-88, 173- 74, 184, and 199
31
Barton 1989
Barton 1993
32
Barton 1993.60-62
33
Barton 1993.25
35
Fronto 2.216 (Loeb)
36
Rawson 1987
Kolendo 1981
37
Suet. Aug. 44
39
Livy 34.54.3-8
Plutarch, Cic. 13.1-4
Moore 1995
Ville 1981.45
Kolendo 1981.302
40
Rawson 1987.87-89
Rawson 1987.92-93
41
Rawson 1987.96-97
Croix 1954.33
42
Cicero, pro Murena 67
pro Sestio 134
43
Rawson 1987.105
Tac. Ann. 2.83
44
Kolendo 1981.304
45
MacMullen 1974.67-68
Compare Kolendo 1981.301
46
Rawson 1987.113
Dio 60.7.3
47
Kolendo 1981.306-307
Small 1987
48
Foucault 1979.138-34
Foucault 1980.56-60
49
Rawson 1987
Rawson 1987.102
50
Clavel-Lévêque 1986.2540
51
Dupont 1985.24
52
Ars Am. 1.99
De spect. 25
53
Hopkins 1983.14-15
54
Millar 1977.365
Millar 1977.368-75
Veyne 1976.685-89
55
Millar 1977.270-71
Wallace-Hadrill 1983.119
56
Wiedemann 1992.169-72
57
Dio 59.5.2
Tac. Ann. 1.76
58
Wallace-Hadrill 1983
1983.25
1983.102
Ektor 1980
Alfoldy 1980/81
1980/81.384
59
Bartsch 1994
61
Bourdieu 1990.56-58
63
Yavetz 1965
Petr. Sat. 45.6
64
Suet. Nero 53
67
Dio 54.2.3-4
68
Ars Amat. 1.99
69
Julius Caesar (Dio 43.21.3)
70
Suet. Aug. 43
71
Dio 51.22
72
Suet. Claud. 21
74
Coleman 1990.46
Suet. Galba 9.1
75
Foucault 1979.110
77
Wistrand 1990.37
78
Davidson 1991.14-18
80
SHA 18.7-8
Ulpian, Digest 3.1.1.6
Edwards 1993.123-66
Edwards 1993.98-126
81
Cic. Phil. 6.5.13
Phil. 5.7.20
Phil. 7.6.17
83
Barton 1989.13-15
Barton 1993.31-36
1989.12
1989.14
Wiedemann 1992
85
pro Milone 34.92
Phil. 3.14.35
86
Wiedemann 1992.37
87
Sen. Ep. 37.1-2
88
De tranq. animi 11.5
De prov. 3.4
note 24
89
Livy 1.7
91
Petronius Sat. 45
93
Hopkins 1983
94
De Off. 1.74-78
95
Ulpian Digest 3.1.1.6
96
Iuv. Sat. 8.192-210
11.3-8
Suet. Nero 12
Tac. Ann. 14.14.9
97
Ann. 15.32
98
Tac. Hist. 2.62.4
Dio 56.25.7-8
Suet. Aug. 43
Dio 43.23.5
64.6.3
99
Dio 57.14.3
Dio 73.17.2
100
De prov. 3.4
101
Suet. Nero 12
104
Bourdieu 1990.299, n. 15
Delia 1991
Hillard 1992
Dixon 1983
105
Joshell 1995
Santoro L'hoir 1994
107
Beard 1980
108
Dio 67.8
109
Suet. Dom. 4
110
Robert. 1940.188
111
Pailler 1990.180-81
112
Apul Met. 10.19ff
Bailey 1980.70-71
Menzel Lamp 539
113
Ovid, Ars Am. 1.281-82
posse capi (269-70)
115
Tert. De spect. 22
Mart. Ep. 5.24
CIL 4.4342
4353
116
Hopkins 1983.23
117
Hopkins 1983.22
118
Joshell 1995.59ff
119
Parker 1992
120
Colin 1952-53
121
Colin 1952-53.346-47
122
Colin 1952-53.344-45
Bouley 1994.45-46
123
"Rech. à Salone, II (E. Dyggve) 1933, p. 85-86, n. 25 (urne) = I, p. 162, fig. 173
124
Colin 1952-53.345-46
126
Ville 1981.443-45
127
Robert 1940.66
129
Dio 73.22
Mercury (73.17)
Rome (73.15)
130
Ann. 11.23-25
131
Sherwin-White 1973.86
132
Clavel-Lévêque 1986.2557
133
Bouley 1994.30-31
Le Roux 1990
Brown 1992
134
Robert 1940.243
135
Robert 1940.135-37
136
Brown 1992.198-200
204-207
Kolendo 1981
137
Robert 1940.169
MAMA, 6,122, pl. 22

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