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Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition$
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Meredith Safran

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440844

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440844.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 31 May 2020

Broken Eagles: The Iron Age of Imperial Roman Warfare in Post-9/11 Film

Broken Eagles: The Iron Age of Imperial Roman Warfare in Post-9/11 Film

(p.243) 13 Broken Eagles: The Iron Age of Imperial Roman Warfare in Post-9/11 Film
Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition

Alex McAuley

Edinburgh University Press

In the second of three chapters that address Rome’s complicated legacy as an imperial state, McAuley contrasts the mid-twentieth century “golden old days” of ancient-world epics, which represented Roman soldiers as consummate professionals and warfare as neatly executed, with recent representations of the Roman army for post-9/11 audiences: a new “iron age” of betrayal, despair, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These films reflect a fundamental shift in the psychology of warfare and killing since Vietnam, which has created a vastly different and more ambiguous kind of conflict than the Cold-War binary of Spartacus (1960).McAuley examines the impact of this paradigm shift on contemporary depictions of the Roman army and its soldiers: first, by considering the “golden age” of Roman warfare in films from the 1950s and 1960s, in contrast with the dystopic view of Centurion(2010) and The Eagle (2011). He then traces the depiction of the individual Roman soldier in each era. Finally, he examines the broader contemporary context for post-9/11 depictions of antiquity: the growing body of films about the War on Terror, with which films like Centurion and The Eagle have far more in common than with their golden-age predecessors.

Keywords:   golden age, iron age, Roman Empire, ancient world epics, post-traumatic stress disorder, Vietnam War, War on Terror, Roman warfare, dystopia, Roman soldier

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