Regime of Ancient
Politics, Sexuality, and the Gaze in the First Century CE.
Outline and Summary
Power and Visual Display in Republican
Some familiar images from the ancient city, and the practices of
Roman political self-display to which they refer.
Ethical Ramifications of the Gaze
A brief discussion of shame cultures and their stress upon visual
control of individual behavior. The
connection between being watched and ethical action.
Forms of the Gaze: The Evil
Eye and Optical Theory.
Two ancient theories of optics, extramission and intramission, which
relied on a tactile understanding of how vision works.
Their relationship to belief in the evil eye.
The Penetrating Gaze and its Erotic Implications
The penetrating power of the gaze, which was often figured
negatively, could also be implicated erotically in relations between the
V. A Tension between Two Cultural Paradigms of Viewing?
How do Roman notions about freedom, libertas, explain the clash
between these two different emphases on being seen?
What circumstances endanger the object under view?
Freeborn Body on Display
The freeborn Roman citizen and cultural constructs about the sanctity
of his bodily boundaries. The
taboo on self-display for the pleasure of others.
Decline of Senatorial Self-Display in the Early Empire
One man seizes control of representations and self-display; the
traditional forms of self-display fall out of use.
New Philosophy of Vision
A philosophical change in the role played by the gaze, which now becomes
a private, not a public, phenomenon.
This lecture discusses the cultural dynamics of vision in ancient
. Visual self-display,
whether for political purposes or on the stage, was closely linked to
attitudes about ethics, power, sexuality, and the body.
The political tradition of Roman elite investment in the
production of spectacles of power existed alongside cultural anxieties
about the effect of such self-display on the person at its center, who
was vulnerable to the evil eye and the emasculation associated with
stage performers. But the
elite experience of both the positive and the negative potential of the
gaze was transformed by the transition from republic to empire, when one
man, the emperor, seized control of the public space of political