Before the 20th round match between Spartak and Zenit, it was impossible not to notice the show organized by the host country. On the territory of "Otkritie Arena" fans waited for "Roman legionaries". They accompanied the team when they entered the field, as if protecting them. Many fans of red and white, this exhibition has led to loss.
The public's surprise is understandable – after all, Spartak is Rome's enemy in mass consciousness, and the appearance of Roman legionaries at the "Spartak" game seems strange. Head of the department for organizing and conducting the "Spartak" FC events Anna Shebalkina explained the intention of the authors of the presentation.
– When was the idea for this performance born? Looks like we've seen this before at Spartak games.
– The idea of such a performance was born in 2015 and was implemented as a "test ball" for the "Spartak" game with "Zenith" in the 2015/16 season. So we didn't try to do an in-depth study of the era and tasks of the legionaries who were part of the guards. The performance consisted of only a few locations. However, much attention has been paid to the entertainment.
– Who organizes the performance? Perhaps a club of historical reconstructions?
– The development of the project, the preparation of the script, the introduction and the direct organization were carried out by the military history club Legio III Cyrenaica (III Legion Cyrena) together with the club staff.
– Do you understand the surprise of the public due to the performance?
– The surprise of the public is certainly understandable, since none of the clubs of the RPL has managed to successfully incorporate real historical plots in its modern history. The fan reaction is understandable: for the most part, they have never seen anything like this before.
– The reaction was ambiguous …
– And it was expected. The stereotypes of the actors' perceptions, exposed in Giovagnoli's novel "Spartak", are so profound that viewers who are unfamiliar with the history of the Roman Republic in the first half of the first century AD clearly consider the Roman legions on a very negative side . The main events of the novel occur from the moment Spartak appears in the Arena in 78 during the Games dedicated to the dictator Lucio Cornelio Sulla Felix.
– What is it that doesn't go here?
– All the previous biography of the hero is shown by the author with shots taken exclusively in black tones in relation to Rome. So now the public is experiencing a kind of "model break", while the stable association starts to work: "Spartacus is the enemy of Rome". For many, it will probably be a surprise to discover that Spartak had Roman citizenship, participated in the wars of Rome with the Bosnian king Mithridates as part of the legions, received a promotion … He had no reason to "desert" somewhere. The biography of Spartacus, in general, invented by Giovagnoli, became the standard for the people. We would like to change it.
– And what is the plot and the concept of this performance?
– The meaning is quite simple. To understand this, it is sufficient to have a minimum level of knowledge about this period. Thus, the stadium is metaphorically associated with the Roman theater – the arena where gladiators go. We have two soccer teams. Since in the vast majority of cases the gladiators have fought with "teams" rather than one at a time during great celebrations, two football teams are like two groups of gladiators. Everything else is convoluted: legionaries, places, posts, change of guards, reconstruction and so on.
The war was not rebuilt by the troops of fugitive slaves against the Roman militias, but by the atmosphere of a party, a celebration crowned with gladiator games (that is, in our case, a match). And the legionaries who played the role of guards in celebrations and games in the Republic and in the Empire are the same integral part of those celebrations, such as the security police.
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And also: the kisses of Carrera, the action with gladiators, the extravagance of Eremenko and the way Akinfeev realized the old dream of the fan.
– Has the field team been borrowed from the past?
– If we talk about how the legionaries actually met the gladiators, before the game we reconstructed and showed the real tasks of the legionaries of the Roman cohorts of security in the arenas when the gladiators went there – there was a convoy corridor , the overlapping of the gladiator barracks. This is what the gladiators looked like from their underground barracks. After that, the legionaries went back to escape from the arena until the end of the gladiator battle. After the battle, the legionaries left the arena – we also showed this position. True, rather briefly, for a general understanding, since it is impossible to stand before the "accordion" according to the RPL regulations.
In total, during the preparation of the game, we showed 11 real historical places, including the senator's honorary guard represented by the hero of the day, Vagiz Khidiyatullin, who was accompanied by an officer.
– Let's go back to the main problem. So, isn't there antagonism here? Does the public seem to be entertained by Roman legionaries who were enemies of Spartacus and rebel slaves?
– Actually, there is no antagonism in our performance. I would like to note that we have not dealt with the subject of the 74-71 war, otherwise it would be impossible to link the arena with gladiators and legionaries. The atmosphere of the Arena and the relationships between the participants in the games and those in the security arena have been reconstructed. We are trying to bring the reconstruction of events as if by the time Spartak became the leader of the rebel troops and the antagonism of one and the other began. As a gladiator, Spartak could not, in principle, fight with the legionaries, since it was impossible in those social roles, "elevators" and the conditions of their relationship before the events of 74-71.
– Many fans may simply not know.
– This is again a stereotype of perception of familiar people at best with Giovagnoli's novel. The clash between Spartaco and the Roman Senate took place just over three years, and until that time Spartak did not enter into any confrontation with the Roman Republic.
– But many believe that one of the meanings of the performance is this: the slaves on the field are fighting for the crowd, and they are joined by the Roman legionaries. It's not right?
– I seriously believe that a slave can climb the career ladder in the Roman army, can only people who are not familiar with the history of antiquity. This was only possible for a citizen. Therefore, there is no antagonism. Spartak at 74 – a Roman citizen, a former legionary, reinstated by Silla's decision in 78 years.
– Many may simply not see the difference between the concepts of "slave" and "gladiator".
– When people talk about the difference between slaves and gladiators or, more often, they put a sign of equality between them, they completely ignore the social "lifts" of that era. Yes, in the ranks of the gladiators there were many barbarians caught in military conflicts, who already had extensive experience in fighting and possessing blade weapons. First of all, they were bought by the owners of gladiator schools – lanistas. These prisoners were the most precious: they didn't need to learn the fighting technique from scratch, they just needed to finish teaching the beautiful fencing, for which each school had a fencing instructor. The simple slave was not interested in the job of the gladiator: the formation was long, the probability of death increased, as well as the income lanista.
"But the slaves were gladiators".
– The profession of gladiator is not a prison, not a bond or a penal servitude. It is rather a theater than a bloody sport. After all, free people came from gladiators, they wanted adrenaline, retired legionaries, including Roman citizens, who could thus secure their future and climb the social ladder.
No one knows for sure the proportions between the redeemed slaves and free citizens who wanted to become gladiators, but historians tend to have an approximately equal relationship.
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Red and white in front of Carrera failed to get close to a competitor.
– What is the difference between a slave and a gladiator?
– Concluding a contract with a lanista, a Roman became practically his property for two years, while maintaining civil rights, with the exception of participation in the vote. The retired gladiator, when his contract ended, waited for honors and a comfortable life. This scenario of further life in Roman society, the usual "economic" slave was by definition private. The difference between a gladiator and a slave was enormous. A gladiator, even redeemed, could achieve much in ancient society, be intelligent, experienced and courageous in the arena.
"But in the end, Spartacus was killed by Roman legionaries, and here, in broad terms, they are supervising him." It is not strange?
– Regarding the death of Spartacus, in our performance we do not in any way influence the events of his revolt. Our goal is different: to show it was colorful and to allow the viewer to touch it. In this case, the legionaries do not guard a particular person: the Spartak, but the two teams of gladiators entering the arena. We have a bit of abstract from the personalities.
Unfortunately, many interpret the history of the events of 74-71 BC, known as "Spartacus uprising", exclusively from the novel by Giovagnoli. Although there are canonical Roman historians – Tito Livio, Sallustio, Appiano and Flor. Giovagnoli soon created an alternative biography of Spartak under the national liberation movement in Italy.
– Do you plan to organize this or similar shows in the future?
– We would like to continue to satisfy the spectators of Spartak's home games at Otkritie Arena with new ideas and shows in Roman style. Best of all, watch the best games when the stadium is sold out. This is very reminiscent of the Roman arenas during celebrations crowned with gladiator fights.