Abstract and initial ideas

Essay Abstract:

In this essay I will be discussing the brutal use of animals in Ancient Roman spectacle, such as in the Colosseum and Flavian Amphitheatre. I will be arguing that the use of animals had a multitude of purposes besides satiating the Romans’ desires for blood, primarily being to avoid conflict and retain order within the Roman Empire. The main purposes I pinpoint are the use of animals to display the Emperor’s political power, including highlighting their wealth and foreign conquests; use of animals to create theatre through mythological re-enactments; providing a spectacle of nature that fascinated citizens; and using damnatio ad bestias to deter crime by threatening criminals with brutal execution methods. I will be using a range of ancient sources by Roman historians, poets, orators and philosophers to demonstrate the different uses of animals and the attitudes Romans had towards this practice. Ultimately, I will conclude that orchestrated conflict was used to prevent societal conflict in Ancient Rome.


Research Question Ideas // Areas of interest:

  • Contemporary conflicts for Aboriginal Australians: Stolen Generations continuing into today
  • Contemporary conflicts for Native Americans (land rights and land destruction, mass incarceration, exploitation of natural resources, survival of native languages)
  • Conflict of generations: Are millennials in a better or worse position than previous generations?
  • Human welfare vs. animal welfare: is there a conflict of interests, is one more important?
  • Conflict of representation – minority and LGBTQ represntation in film: use of white actors to play Asian and Native characters, use of cisgender actors to play trans characters, use of able-bodied actors to play disabled characters…Is it helpful to include these representations or detrimental to the communities who are potentially falsely represented?
  • Conflict between entertainment and ethics – Where is the line between necessary/narrative related violence and glorification for shock value in TV shows? e.g. sex scenes and sexual violence in Game of Thrones and similar shows, Thirteen Reasons Why shocking scenes.