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World Cup 2018
Eight Days That Made Rome: Theatre of Death
E7 of 8
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In this particular instance, the title should probably be “100 Days That Made Rome”, as Bettany Hughes is looking at the 100 days of bloody slaughter staged at the newly built Colosseum in Rome by the emperor Titus in AD 80. What Hughes wants to explore is the belief system that lay behind the games, and the concept of “virtus” – a specific kind of manliness and courage – that allowed animals and people (including the particularly manly gladiators) to be killed for public entertainment.
For Titus (and his grumpy younger brother Domitian) there was a lot at stake. As a new imperial dynasty, they were bribing their way into the public’s affections after a bad year, as well as showing off pure imperial clout.
Bettany Hughes explores the day in 80AD when the Colosseum opened its gates for the first time. For new emperor Titus, the spectacular games and events were an opportunity to win over the people and secure his place on the imperial throne, but why did the Romans - cultured and civilised in so many ways - enjoy witnessing such brutality and bloodletting? Bettany travels across the Roman world in a bid to find answers. Dramatisations featuring Sam Barriscale, Oliver Monaghan and Paul Lacoux bring the key moments to life.
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