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Venice IncognitoMasks in the Serene Republic$
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James Johnson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520267718

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520267718.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

Blood Sport

Blood Sport

(p.30) CHAPTER 4 Blood Sport
Venice Incognito

James H. Johnson

University of California Press

This chapter discusses one of the most popular forms of daytime amusement during the closing weeks of the Venetian carnival. A public sport which was marked by glee and gore was the caccie dei tori or “bull hunts”—a refinement of games that dated back to Roman times. This public sport was often sponsored by Venetian patricians. Unlike gladiator bouts which divided the populace, the bull hunts were believed to foster solidarity. For all the participants of this public sport, the acts of slaughter were experiences of displacement. The gruesome ritual of bull hunts gave the Venetians the strength and resolve to confront their enemies. It reprsented a controlled public version of what might follow one day on the battlefield in the mayhem and uncertainty of war. The masks and costumes turned the hunt into a theatrical piece. On this level, it operated as a show of strength, cast as an entertainment but meant to convey power.

Keywords:   daytime amusement, Venetian carnival, public sport, caccie dei tori, bull hunts, acts of slaughter

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