Greek Athletics In The Roman World: Victory And Virtue
Dr Newbyworks on the visual arts of the ancient world. She is also interested in thelinks between art and text, and the receptions of visual images in the Greekliterature of the Roman empire. Her recent research focuses on the reception ofGreek athletics in the Roman empire and the representation of Greek mythologyin Roman art.During thecourse of the first three centuries AD, Greek athletics came to play a dominantrole in the cultural life of the Roman empire. The enduring importance of Greekathletic training and competition during the period of the Roman Empire hasbeen a neglected subject in past scholarship on the ancient world. The enduringimportance of Greek athletic training and competition during the period of theRoman Empire has been a neglected subject in past scholarship on the ancientworld. The chronological horizon stretches from the first century BCE to thethird century CE. His presentation of the Roman places of performance isparticularly valuable. By the time of the RomanEmpire the Olympics were still flourishing, centred at the heart of a newindustry in athletic and theatrical festivals which drew competitors fromacross the Mediterranean world.His accountof the victory statues that remained at Olympia or scattered throughout Greekcities shows that they served as important symbols of the claims of individualcities to be part of the Greek worldThis richlyillustrated (hence, expensive), well-produced, and elegantly written bookdiscusses how Greek festival culture was performed, adopted, and adaptedthroughout the Roman Empire. The chronological horizon stretches from the firstcentury BCE to the third century CE. Newby (Univ. of Warwick) describes, ofcourse, games, contenders, and physical locales, but within an often-revealingexamination of how agonistic competition was expressed in literature andplastic art, no less than in monumental architecture. His presentation of theRoman places of performance is particularly valuable. For many Greeks (then asnow), performance validated Hellenic identity and maintained bonds with thepast. For others (Romans, notably), Greek athletics was far from being anactivity to disdain (as some Latin authors would suggest): rather, it was atraditional, high culture in which to participate (no matter how banal thepresent reality often was) or, at least, to observe and admire. Newby's studytakes its place alongside Stephen Miller's Ancient Greek Athletics (CH, Nov'04,42-1635) and Nigel Spivey's The Ancient Olympics (CH, Jan'05, 43-2871) indemonstrating how far the academic study of Greco-Roman athletics has advancedfrom E. N. Gardiner's gentlemanly treatises a century ago. The bibliography isa rich research resource. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academiclevels/libraries. Copyright 2006 American Library AssociationAs Athensprepares to host the 2004 modern Olympics, it seems an appropriate time to lookback to the ancient Olympic Games and the role that they played within ancientconstructions of Greek culture and identity. The Games were held every fouryears at the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, in Southern Greece, and survived forover 1100 years, from their supposed institution in 776 BC until the end of thefourth century AD. During this period Olympia came to play a key role as agathering place for the Greeks, and as a showcase for Greek achievements, bothmilitary and athletic. Idealised nude statues were set up to commemorate theathletic victors, while individual cities also celebrated military victorieshere, often those won over their own neighbours. The Kings of Macedonia,ancestors of Alexander the Great, used their involvement in the chariot races hereto prove their claims to be seen as part of the Greek world, while in the Romanperiod even philhellenic emperors such as Nero could take part (albeitcontroversially - the Olympics in which he took part were later expunged fromthe records!) The Hellenistic period (after the death of Alexander the Great in323 BC) had seen great exn of the Greek world, with new Greek citiesfounded in places as far flung as Egypt, Afghanistan and Syria. By the time ofthe Roman Empire the Olympics were still flourishing, centred at the heart of anew industry in athletic and theatrical festivals which drew competitors fromacross the Mediterranean world.