Amphitheatric Power

In Alexander’s time the amphitheatre was a sign of Macedonian power. Especially for the new and conquered cities in modern-day Turkey. The amphitheatre combined the Macedonian dominance of technologies such as architecture, construction, science, art, culture and wealth. The Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, USA is not a display of American power – the two most prominent symbols of that got hit by hijacked aircraft in 2001 – but maybe it should be argued that the spontaneous culture which has popped up there is.

Red Rocks is a natural amphitheatre. The tall canyon stone at the sides and bottom reflect sound so that a slightly raised voice is audible at the top of the stairs. There is the desire at Red Rocks for nature to be perfect, but humankind have put many pragmatic improvements; such as very comfortable seating, a roof to protect performers from the elements and brick towers for the PA systems.

The Macedonians would be comfortable with that. What would be alien to them though is the fitness culture at Red Rocks. In the photo above you can see people moving left to right, and bottom to top. Other than a couple of tourists, every other person there was running, exercising or power-walking. There were about three groups of five to seven people working out in unison: including one group running around each decorative little tree on the side of the amphitheatre.

Alexander led a massive empire which stretched from Greece and Egypt, through Persia to India; but it was never so wealthy and so powerful that it could have a bunch of people who were uninterested in furthering that empire’s wealth and power other than to run around an amphitheatre for their own personal amusement.

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gilmae
15 years ago

I dunno…isn’t that the entire point of an amphitheater and what presumably the Macedonians did there? Hanging around for no other reason than one’s amusement?

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

I agree with your basic point that the pursuit of ‘useless’ or ‘foolish’ ends, such as most hobbies, including fitness for the fitness fanatics, and most diets, including vegetarianism, are indications of the wealth and prosperity of the individuals’ group.

But I don’t know to what extent the comparison is valid, unless it is that idle pursuits are open to an extraordinary proportion of Americans (and Australians, etc) compared to any past civilisations?

Certainly one of the hallmarks of the last century or two has been the amazing increase in material well-being (health, leisure, education, you name it) of the poor.

Then again, as one of China’s commie monsters (not sure: Deng?) once reminded us, a few hundred years is not enough to judge historical context. One of the most significant questions is whether history will see the century just past as one of incredible change or merely the warm-up?

cam
cam
15 years ago

Gilmae, isn’t that the entire point of an amphitheater and what presumably the Macedonians did there?

The Macedonians didn’t hang around there to avoid being fat.

Patrick, But I don’t know to what extent the comparison is valid, unless it is that idle pursuits are open to an extraordinary proportion of Americans (and Australians, etc) compared to any past civilisations?

I was trying to be tongue in cheek. I think the spontaneous fitness culture at Red Rocks is pretty cool but having to work in your own leisure time to avoid being over-weight is definitely a modern affliction and would largely be alien to the Macedonians.