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College of Arts and Sciences

Twitter has become the modern-day Colosseum

By: Michael Fontaine,  Fortune
December 11, 2018

Michael Fontaine, a professor in the classics department and specialist in latin literature and Roman society, published a recent opinion piece in Fortune. His commentary discusses the similiarities between the modern use of Twitter and ancient Rome's Colosseum. He draws parallels in these two platforms, highlighting their shared function as an arena for attacking people's reputations and livelihoods.

"Twitter mobs came into their own in 2018, bringing individuals down with astonishing regularity," he writes. "Think Roseanne Barr and Quinn NortonKevin Hart and Kevin Williamson. You know the drill. Someone makes an ill-advised remark, people pounce, and by the end of the day they’re toast. They lose their jobs, even their careers...

"The Romans didn’t have Twitter, of course, but they did have the Colosseum. Romans filled it to watch human beings—usually slaves or criminals—fight to the death. It was fun for the masses, admission was free, and best of all, the emotions it aroused were awesome. People cheered the righteous takedown of enemies, the destruction of injustice, the thrill of virtue. It’s not so different from what we’re now seeing on Twitter every day."

Read the full story on the Fortune website.