Achieve Your “15 Minutes of Fame” & Ancient Lessons on How to be Famous: Celebrity Culture in the Ancient World | Ancient Origins Members Site


Achieve Your “15 Minutes of Fame” & Ancient Lessons on How to be Famous: Celebrity Culture in the Ancient World

Achieve Your “15 Minutes of Fame” & Ancient Lessons on How to be Famous: Celebrity Culture in the Ancient World

An early third century CE Greek inscription recovered from the ancient town of Oinoanda in southwest Turkey reveals that the Roman army relied on the services of Lucius Septimius Flavianus Flavillianus, a champion in wrestling and Pankraiton, to recruit new soldiers to the army. Much like celebrity endorsements familiar to us today, Lucius’ celebrity was able to drum up support and large numbers of volunteers as he eventually became a Roman military recruiter who identified and then transported new soldiers to the Syrian city of Heirapolis.

Pankraiton. The right boxer signals giving up by raising his finger high (c. 500 BC)

Pankraiton. The right boxer signals giving up by raising his finger high (c. 500 BC). (CC BY 2.5)

Many indications of a celebrity culture have existed since classical antiquity. The Ancient Greek and Roman world gave us many individuals who were celebrities in their day and whose careers provide us with what we recognize today as different aspects of the modern celebrity culture such as endorsements, groupies and ‘15 minutes of fame’ —albeit without the terminology. The price of fame in the ancient world is also surprisingly, and in some cases chillingly, similar with what we see today.


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