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STARZ Spartacus

Reimagining an Icon on Screen

Edited by Antony Augoustakis, Monica S Cyrino

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Gladiator, rebel slave leader, revolutionary: the figure of Spartacus frequently serves as an icon of resistance against oppression in modern political movements, while his legend has inspired numerous receptions over the centuries in many different media. With its visually excessive style of graphic sex and CGI-enhanced violence, the four seasons of the premium cable television series STARZ Spartacus tells the story of the historical Thracian gladiator who led a slave uprising against the Roman Republican army from 73 to 71 BC. STARZ Spartacus: Reimagining an Icon on Screen is the first scholarly volume to explore the entirety of this critically acclaimed and commercially successful drama series. This new volume brings together pioneering and provocative essays written by an international cast of leading classical scholars and experienced media critics. Turning a sharp eye on the series’ historical framework, visual and narrative style, thematic overtones, and interaction with contemporary popular culture, this volume also engages with the authenticity of the production and considers its place in the tradition of epic films and television series set in ancient Rome. At once both erudite and entertaining, STARZ Spartacus: Reimagining an Icon on Screen is an invaluable resource for both students and scholars eager to confront a new Spartacus, as the hero of the slave revolt is recast for a twenty-first century audience.


Series Editors’ Preface
Editors’ Acknowledgments
List of Illustrations
Episode Listing

Introduction: Reimagining A New Spartacus, Antony Augoustakis and Monica S. Cyrino
Part I: Heroes and Heroism
1. Memories of Storied Heroes, Alison Futrell
2. From Kubrick’s Political Icon to Television Sex Symbol, Nuno Simões Rodrigues
3. The Life and Death of Gannicus, Juliette Harrisson
4. A New Crassus as Roman Villain, Gregory N. Daugherty
Part II: Social Spaces
5. Upward Mobility in the House of Batiatus, Monica S. Cyrino
6. Social Dynamics and Liminal Spaces, Stacie Raucci
7. Building a New Ancient World, Lisa Maurice 
Part III: Gender and Sexuality
8. The Rape of Lucretia, Anise K. Strong
9. The Others, Antony Augoustakis
10. Fan Reactions to Nagron as One True Pairing, Amanda Potter
Part IV: Spectacle and Violence
11. Base Pleasures, Spectacle, and Society, Alex McAuley
12. Draba’s Legacy and the Spectacle of Sacrifice, Meredith D. Prince
13. Violence and Voyeurism in the Arena, Hunter H. Gardner and Amanda Potter

About the Author

Antony Augoustakis is Professor of Classics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA. His research focuses on Imperial Latin literature of the first century CE, especially the role of gender and the representation of death and ritual in epic poetry. He has also published several book chapters on the representation of classical antiquity on film and television. He is the editor of Classical Journal.

Monica S. Cyrino is Professor of Classics at the University of New Mexico. Her scholarly research centers on the reception of the ancient world on screen. She has published numerous books and articles and often gives lectures around the world on the representation of classical antiquity on film and television. She has served as an academic consultant on several recent film and television productions.


In 1960 Kirk Douglas’ Spartacus was directed toward the liberal values of its middle class audience. The contributors to this volume ably show in their analyses how half a century later both producers and viewers of STARZ Spartacus have become significantly more disparate in their aspirations, whether political or sexual.

- Arthur J. Pomeroy, Victoria University of Wellington

It remains to be noted that the present collection taps wonderfully into the ever-expanding series of works that deal with the reception of the ancient world in film and television.

(translated from German)

- Eugen Sonnenberg, Universitaet Trier, Thersites

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