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The University of Southampton
Lifelong Learning

‘Let Trumpets Roar’ Religious Spectacle in Ancient Rome

Religion was central to the lives of inhabitants in ancient Rome. The ways religion manifested itself is multifaceted and served a variety of different purposes. Spectacle or performance of religion was one way in which the Romans used religion for various purposes.

Arch of Titus
Arch of Titus

Through the consideration of the spectacle forms that religion took, various aspects of Roman socio-political society will be explored upon the basis of archaeological material. This module will introduce you to the evidence and key theoretical concepts to understanding Roman religion and its manifestations as a spectacle in antiquity. Using the example of Roman religion, you will develop knowledge of archaeological approaches to studying the ancient world. Specific case studies, digital media, and archaeological material will be utilized to contextualize the various ways that religion became visible in ancient Rome. By the end of the module you will be familiar with the wide range of archaeological evidence pertaining to Roman religion and the different ways in which it can be studied.

Book Course

Course Code: LLLRomSP

Course Dates: 10th October 2016 – 28th November 2016 (19.00 to 21.00)

Course Leader: Katherine Crawford

This eight-week module will introduce you to Roman religion and the different ways in which it manifested as a spectacle in the ancient world. You will cover material from the city of Rome but also the provinces, including evidence from Roman Britain. You will begin by considering what forms spectacle took as well as what was considered religion in antiquity. You will then deal with various venues of public spectacle from public games to specific religious cult practices to engage with the question of how religion manifested itself and was displayed. This module will conclude with a consideration of how we understand spectacle today, but also some of the methods being used to enlighten us about its construction in the past.

Topics to be explored will typically include

What is spectacle of Roman religion? introduction to the topic of spectacle and what it means in studies of ancient Rome and religion.

Religions of Rome; provides background on the religious cults that formed the core of religion in ancient Rome. We will look at visual and architectural evidence pertaining to Roman religion and question the ways in which this evidence can be considered as a form of spectacle.

Bread and Circuses; public spectacles such as gladiatorial games in the Colosseum, chariot races in the circus, and theatrical performances will be introduced. The ways in which religion was incorporated into these events will be explored.

State Religion; within all of the various religious cults, was there one religion that everyone followed? The ways in which the Roman emperors used religion to strengthen their rule and power will be considered.

All of Rome is a Stage; looking at the different ways Emperors created and organized spectacles such as the Triumph or the construction of the Colosseum will be considered.

Dedications to the Gods; discussion of the permanent architectural forms religion takes, whether in the form of a temple or small dedication. The presence religious architecture had within the ancient city and how this impacted the reception of religion will be explored.

Religious Processions and Parades; How can we study religious processions, from major events like the Roman Triumph to small individual cult processions? Do we see similar events in modern society, and how can this inform our understanding of the past?

Visualizing Spectacle and Religion; how do we understand ancient spectacle and reconstruct it today? Do we see similarities in modern society that relate to events and practices found in ancient Rome?

Booking Information

Please note that your course will only run if it receives a sufficient number of bookings . This will be confirmed closer to the start date of the course. If your course is cancelled due to insufficient booking numbers, you will receive a full refund. Please note that the booking/payment confirmation that you receive should not be taken as a guarantee that the course will run. This confirmation will be sent to you separately once it has been established that the course will go ahead.

If you select the staff or student price option, you must use an online store account that has been set up with your University email address and fill out your University staff or student ID number when prompted as part of the questionnaire data section.

Unfortunately, you can only select the staff or student price option if you are a full time/ part time student of the University or staff member. This discount is not available if you have taken a Lifelong Learning evening course before.


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Student / Staff Discount


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