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Spartacus: Blood and Sand

By zeo0Lux May 04, 2013 1604 Words
Spartacus:Blood and Sand
* How is ancient Roman civilization represented in the series as a whole, or inside a particular episode? * Which significant visual elements are employed to that end? * Which relevant historical references are interspersed in the series? * What is the general characterization of ancient society under the Roman rule, in it? * Which values, behaviors or words make up some of the characters' identity as ancient Romans? * How are the themes of power and decadence represented and emphasized in the series? * Is there any reference in the movie to historical, cultural or anthropological connections between ancient Romans and modern-day Italians? * How was the series received by the viewers?

* Is there any evidence, in their comments or reactions, of the way the series influenced their view of Roman civilization?
Ancient Roman civilization is often used and adapted in theater arts and various other artistic mediums to portray a story or convey a message. In these instances the audiences are looking at a representation of the ancient Roman civilization and can often assume or question whether or not this is the way society was in the past because after all, seeing is believing. The Starz original series Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a historical drama based on the life of famous Thracian slave turned gladiator Spartacus (Played by Andy Whitfeild ) who led a slave rebellion(Third servile war or slave war) against the Roman Republic from 73 B.C. to 71 B.C. which is said to inspire various revolutionaries such as The Spartacus League which was a left winged Marxist revolutionary movement created during the first world war in Germany. In this essay I will discuss the way Spartacus: Blood and Sand represented ancient Roman society as a whole. Ancient Roman civilization is portrayed in the Starz original series Spartacus Blood and Sand as a whole as a sort of civilization with a culture very representation, defiance ,order ,power and entertainment for the masses. There are several similarities such as the concept of upward mobility of those who are live lives less desired by their ambitions. The most notable character to represent the struggle of rising to the top is Lentulus Batiatus (Played by John Hannah) who is the master of the ludus that Spartacus is being trained in and aims to work his way into the senate by gaining the favor of those in power by use of his gladiators, his wife and throwing parties, a concept still active in the world today for those who would see themselves rise to higher titles in politics, place of work or even amongst their peers. A viewer might watch the series and think that ancient Roman society is very much like society today with the same struggles but with the exception of certain things that are considered expectable. For example in the series the character Barca (played Antonio Te Maioha ) is a well-respected gladiator within the ludus and close friend to Crixus a Gual (played by Manu Bennett) is an openly homosexual male and even have open sex with his lover Pietros and does not receive any form of animosity for it whereas now even though steps are being taken to working toward the end of the discrimination of homosexuals it is not so accepted. Audiences believing this to be an accurate portrayal of ancient Roman society may believe that in the past people were less judgmental on sexual deviants or perhaps that they were so comfortable with it that it was not considered a deviant at all after all Greek mythology hero Hercules was known for his sexual prowess with both men and women. It conflicts with modern western culture and Italian civilization now, because we are still working toward accepting homosexuality. Greetings are also seemed to be more passionate between friends than in western society between women for example where Lithia (played by Viva Bianca) and Lucretia (played by Lucy Lawless) kiss each other on the lips. In western culture that would be viewed as a sign that the two women are lesbian when they are in fact heterosexual females, the audience may see this as the Italian way of cultural greetings. On the theme of what would be considered social norms, according to the Starz original series nudity was the norm in ancient Roman times. Per episode a viewer is bound to witness the breast of various women within the series especially those of the slaves who are often dressed in a fashion without the idea of covering themselves up in mind. The gladiators even bathe together and the main character Spartacus and his rival Crixus even fight in the nude as if they are not naked at all. By this representation of ancient Roman society one would conclude that ancient Romans were very comfortable in their bodies compared to Italian civilization now and western culture where such blatant nudity would be considered lewdness and punishable by law. One may conclude that in ancient times that people were much rawer in the sexual sense. The belief in gods seem to be a theme in the series also and their signs of their existence seem to be in the forms of premonitions that often the female characters of the show have like Spartacus’s wife who dreams that he will be at the mercy of a red serpent and that he is destined for “Great and unfortunate things” ,the first part of the premonition seem to have come true where Spartacus faces the threat of four gladiators during his execution in the coliseum and one of them boast a shield with big red serpent on the design. As for the second part Spartacus does go through unfortunate events in his life while in the ludus but I believe the “great” part is referring to Spartacus’s role in the Third Servile War and becoming an inspiration for various cultures throughout the world despite him eventually losing but representing an idea and ideas don’t share the mortality that people do. Gods seem to be an explanation for natural phenomenon also in the series such as when Spartacus and Crixus slayed Theoloces who was called “The shadow of death”( this is a good representation of how substantial prowess can earn you exaggerated titles amongst ancient Roman society) and it then started to rain and the people of Capua rejoiced in the rain as if it was a gift from their divine entities. In the face of unfortunate circumstance Biatus even says phrases like “the gods shit on me!” a way of placing blame on unfortunate events on deities who have more power than the characters themselves. This is often reflected in current western and Italian culture such as when people say phrases like “Thank god” when good things happen to them. Society under Roman rule seems to be oppressive for those outside the cities especially in the beginning of the series where the Roman army orders the Thracians to abandon their village to fight for them and as a result triggers the first act of defiance in the series and results in Spartacus being enslaved. The concept of slavery is riddled throughout the series because well it is essentially a story about a slave but in the ludus and in the houses of those in power there are slaves everywhere, it doesn’t seem like these people are under the employment of their masters at all but actual slaves often having to perform sexual acts to entertain or pleasure whoever their masters please without objection or face death or a fate worse. In one instance Spartacus is commanded to kill Varro a Roman citizen who sold himself to ludus to support his wife and kid and Spartacus’s best friend in the series to appease the teenage son of a senator Batiatus wishes to appease. A slaves life seems to be represented as of little value in the Starz original series and one may believe that it was the truth back in the ancient Roman days, which would explain the slave wars that occurred in Italian history. There is definitely a hierarchy in Ancient Roman society and that is why characters are often ambitious in their tactics to gain power or favor of those above them, enough to even kill for it. This is meant to portray ancient Roman politics and in a way mirrors society now because corruption is an issue in any organization or government entity. Those in power seem to use the gladiatorial games as a way to entertain or distract the masses from their problems the way T.V. entertains society today but in ancient Rome it is more at the expense of others ,in this case the expense of gladiators/slaves. The series often portrays the gladiator fights with so much gore it seems impossible but that is just the art in the cinematography of the series, what is surprising is not the abundance of violence and gore but more that the crowd cheers at the slaughter of others amusing themselves extremely at the expense of other human beings just like them, while drinking, kissing one another and women flinging their breast about in excitement. This representation of ancient Roman society could lead one to believe that people back then were callous to the pain of others and were just partying drunks, foreshadowing the fall of the Roman Empire. The theme of power and decadence is exaggerated in the way characters behave to their superiors often submitting to them even though they may be at odds with what they are commanded to do, every character seems to answer to another such as

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