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Colosseum (Rome, 1st century)

Colosseum (Rome, 1st century)

The most famous and most magnificent amphitheater of Rome was built in the 1st century.

History

Keywords

Colosseum, amphitheater, Rome, Római Birodalom, animal fight, gladiator fight, arena, circus games, gladiator, building, edifice, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Nero, arch, entertainment, elliptic floor plan, auditorium, Flavian Amphitheatre, antiquity, persecution of Christians, emperor, imperial period, history

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Questions

  • What does the term namphitheater mean?
  • In which ancient empire was the world's most famous amphitheater built?
  • What does the salutation of gladiators entering the amphitheater mean? ("Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant")
  • What does the following phrase mean? "Panem et circenses"

Scenes

Narration

Amphitheaters were typically elliptical-based structures that primarily served as venues for circus games.
The arena was surrounded by several stories of seats that offered a safe place for the public to observe the fights.

A most infamous amphitheater of the Ancient Roman Empire, the Colosseum, is one of the most famous structures in world history.
Its construction began under the reign of the Emperor Vespasian. The magnificent structure next to the Forum Romanum was inaugurated in 80 A.D. by Titus, Vespasian's successor. The finishing touches were added during Emperor Domitian's reign. Originally named the Flavian amphitheater after the Flavian dynasty that built it, the enormous building is said to have been renamed in the Middle Ages, when the structure was named after the nearby equestrian statue of the Emperor Nero.

The Colosseum was approximately 188 meters (616.8 feet) long, 156 meters (511.8 feet) wide and 50 meters (164 feet) high. The amphitheater seated more than 50 thousand people with the emperor and his cortege occupying their own separate balcony above the main gates. The ingenious architects and engineers of the amphitheater constructed a complex building out of limestone, tuff-stone and bricks. Regardless of the building's complexity, the system of entrances, stairs, descents and walkways worked exceptionally well in reality. (The shape and structure of the Colosseum inspired a number of architects of 20th-century football stadiums as well.)

The gladiators and the wild animals were led onto the "stage" through ingeniously created walkways and integrated elevators from chambers located under the arena. By closing the drainage canals, they were able to create an artificial lake within the arena, in order to stage simulated sea battles. On the top, fourth story, pedestals and consoles held large poles, to which a canopy was fixed to cover most of the amphitheater.

In the course of many decades, a great many gladiators and wild animals lost their lives in the arena of the Colosseum, thus providing entertainment for the enthusiastic masses. (In the days when Christians were persecuted, many of them met the same fate as well.) The central amphitheater of Rome, however, still attracts millions of tourists every year. Its condition is far from perfect now, but it remains one of the most important symbols of the imperial city. Visitors might even remember the following words from the medieval English historian, theologian and philosopher, the Venerable Bede: "While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; when falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall."

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