The Roman Colosseum: The History of the World’s Most Famous Arena
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Quick intro to this magnificent structure. Would've been four stars, but there were too many typos. View all 5 comments. May 31, Mark Stone rated it liked it.
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I was expecting a book about the Amphitheatrum Flavium to be more than thirty some odd pages. Foolish me for assuming. Next time I pay for a book I will check its length. Although I felt a bit ripped off by the brevity of the book, what's in the book is a good introduction to and great description of the amphitheater regarding how it stood when it was used for gladiatorial combat. Jan 04, Matt Nichols rated it it was amazing. Excellent little history lesson If you want a quick summary on the history of the Roman Colosseum, this book fits the bill nicely.
I recommend it to anyone with an interest in Roman history. Dec 29, Christine rated it it was ok Shelves: history-ancient-greece-rome , castles-and-famous-buildings , kindle-freebie. D and 80 A.
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D under the Emperor Vespasian , in the heart of Ancient Rome. Oval in shape, it measures m long, m wide and 50m high about the height of a 12 storey building. This ancient sporting arena could easily fit a modern day football pitch inside! These events included gladiatorial combats, wild animal hunts and, believe it or not, ship naval battles! And free food was sometimes served, too. On top of this roof platform sailors were employed to manage the large awning velarium which protected the spectators from rain or provided shade on hot days.
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The different levels of seats were accessed via broad staircases with each landing and seat being numbered. The total capacity for the Colosseum was approximately 45, seated and 5, standing spectators. One of the oldest depictions of the Colosseum appeared on the coins of Titus and shows three tiers, statues in the upper external arches and the large column fountain - the Meta Sudans - which stood nearby.
The scene of all the action --the sanded arena floor-- was also eye-catching.
It was often landscaped with rocks and trees to resemble exotic locations during the staging of wild animal hunts venatiories. There were also ingenious underground lifting mechanisms which allowed for the sudden introduction of wild animals into the proceedings. On some occasions, notably the opening series of shows, the arena was flooded in order to host mock naval battles.
Under the arena floor and visible to the modern visitor was a maze of small compartment rooms, corridors and animal pens. Witness the monumental architecture of Imperial Rome, the product of centuries of building activities. Explore Now. Although historically tied to earlier Etruscan games which emphasised the rites of death, the shows in the Roman arenas were designed simply to entertain, however, they also demonstrated the wealth and generosity of the Emperor and provided an opportunity for ordinary people to actually see their ruler in person.
Emperors were usually present, even when they had no particular taste for the events such as Marcus Aurelius. Titus and Claudius were noted for shouting at the gladiators and other members of the crowd and Commodus himself performed in the arena hundreds of times. One vestige of the earlier Etruscan tradition continued, however, with the presence of the attendant whose job was to finish off any fallen gladiator by a blow to the forehead. This attendant wore the mythical costume of either Charon the Etruscan minister of Fate or Hermes , the messenger god who accompanied the dead down to the underworld.
The presence of the Vestal Virgins, the Pontifex Maximus and the divine Emperor also added a certain pseudo-religious element to the proceedings, at least in Rome.
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However, blood sports and death were the real purpose of the spectacular shows and an entire profession arose to meet the massive entertainment requirements of the populace - for example under Claudius there were 93 games a year. Spectacles often lasted from dawn till nightfall and the gladiators usually kicked-off the show with a chariot procession accompanied by trumpets and even a hydraulic organ and then dismounted and circled the arena, each saluting the emperor with the famous line: Ave, imperator, morituri te salutant!
Hail, Emperor, those who are about to die salute you! The following blood sports between various classes of gladiators included weapons such as swords, lances, tridents, and nets and could also involve female combatants. Next came the animal hunts with the bestiarii -- the professional beast killers. The animals had no chance in these contests and were most often killed at a distance using spears or arrows. There were dangerous animals such as lions, tigers, bears, elephants, leopards, hippopotamuses and bulls but there were also events with defenceless animals such as deer, ostriches, giraffes and even whales.
The Colosseum was also the scene of many executions during the lunch-time lull when the majority of spectators went for lunch , particularly the killing of Christian martyrs.
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Seen as an unacceptable challenge to the authority of Pagan Rome and the divinity of the Emperor, Christians were thrown to lions, shot down with arrows, roasted alive and killed in a myriad of cruelly inventive ways. In CE, with the changing times and tastes, the games of the Colosseum were finally abolished by Emperor Honorius, although condemned criminals were still made to fight wild animals for a further century. The building itself would face a chequered future, although it fared better than many other imperial buildings during the decline of the Empire.
Repairs were also made in , and CE. The venue continued to be used for wrestling matches and animal hunts up to the 6th century CE but the building began to show signs of neglect and grass was left to grow in the arena. In the 12th century CE it became a fortress of the Frangipani and Annibaldi families.