The spectacle of the "New": Novelty in the Roman arena as a literary trope
Mongrain, Caitlin Monroe
Ancient narratives of the Roman arena, such as those included in the texts of Tacitus, Cassius Dio, Juvenal, and Martial, frequently emphasize the "novelty" of the events depicted on the sands. These accounts have traditionally been treated as reliable evidence of the craving for "the shock of the new" in arena performances, yet their veracity must be problematized. By examining the context of these narratives, I argue that the presentation of these spectacles as “novel” is more representative of a literary interest in "the new” and of a display of artistic finesse than an exposition of historical fact.