Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
Although popular culture has long revered the gladiators as the manliest of Romans, posturing before howling crowds of plebeians as the rockstars of their day, the sex of gladiators as constructed by Romans is rather more complicated. This talk tackles the sexualized nuances of the arena, touching on the relative masculinity of gladiators as a group, within Roman society, as well as the sliding scale of virility among the different styles of combat. And what about female performers? Were spectacles that were populated by women contestants “sexier”, designed to titillate and persuade in a way that was different from the more standard shows? The kind of spectacle shaded the message of sexual power as well, as Christian women condemned to the arena were suffused with special authority by reason of their gender.