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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The city of Rome and other urban communities throughout the empire were alive with spectacles of all kinds, including triumphs, funerals, executions, and religious festivals with their various games (ludi). This chapter considers the critical role that inscriptions play in our understanding of Roman spectacles. It focuses in particular on spectacles in the theatre (ludi scaenici), circus (ludi circenses), athletic stadium, and especially the amphitheatre (munera and venationes). Epigraphic discoveries of many types continue to add new details and insights that our moralizing literary sources simply ignore: tombstones of spectacle performers; statue-bases honouring local elites who sponsored spectacles; building inscriptions from theatres, amphitheatres, and circuses; senatorial decrees, imperial edicts/letters, and municipal laws regulating public spectacle; announcements of upcoming spectacles; curse tablets; and inscribed artifacts depicting gladiators, actors, and charioteers.

Keywords: inscriptions, ludi, munera, venationes, religious festivals, amphitheatres, theatres, circuses, gladiators, actors, pantomimes, charioteers, public spectacles, sponsorship of spectacles, Rome, Italy, Roman provinces

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