The Roman Colosseum

Topics: Roman Empire, Rome, Ancient Rome Pages: 6 (2231 words) Published: December 2, 2012
“While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; And when Rome falls—the world.” The Roman Colosseum was one of the most, if not the most important architectural structures in Rome, as well as one the largest outdoor theatres of ancient Rome. It was often considered the heart of Roman life and culture because of its importance, purpose, and beauty. Throughout its turbulent history, the Colosseum has always been an important part of Roman life symbolically and culturally, and today even attracts over five million visitors a year. In 64 CE, During Emperor Nero’s rule, there was a huge fire and only four of the fourteen districts of Rome were not destroyed. Nero rebuilt the city and made it beautiful, constructing a Golden House which was later destroyed by another fire in 104 CE. The only thing that remained of the Golden House after this disaster was the 120 ft statue of Emperor Nero himself in the entrance hall. This colossal statue ended up giving its name to the Colosseum, which was later built near the remains of the Golden House. The Colosseum, often called the Flavian amphitheatre, is made of concrete, tavertine, tufa, marble, and brick, with stone covering the exterior. It has an oval shape has four stories. The Colosseum is 157 ft high, 620 ft long, and 510 ft wide, making it about the size of a football field. It could hold about 50,000 spectators who sat on marble or wooden benches, depending on their status in society. The emperor and the senators had special seats. The first three stories of the Colosseum are made up of arches that are decorated with half columns. The fourth and final story was added later and its decoration is not as extravagant as that of the other stories. It is simply made up of big brackets that supported the poles that held up the awnings to protect the spectators from the sun and rain back then. The Colosseum has 76 entrances, two of which were reserved for the emperor and one for the magistrates. These “special” entrances were magnificently decorated, which distinguished them from the rest of the entrances. It also has trap doors that lead to a system of passages and chambers that run below the floor of its arena where the gladiators and animals waited before performing, and pipes beneath it that suggest that it may have been flooded to reenact victorious sea battles of the Romans. The interior of the Colosseum is made up of three parts: the arena, for the battles and other events, the podium, to give prominence to certain people at certain times during the displays, and the cavea, where the wild animals were kept before the fights. It took a lot of work to build the Colosseum and the structure and all its different parts were very well thought out. At first, the Romans used to go to small wooden arenas to watch funeral games, as entertainment. These games used to only have about three pairs of gladiators and they used to be required in order to please the Gods and to help prevent Rome from facing disaster. The competitions and fights were a way for the Patricians to gain popularity among the Plebeians by giving them free entertainment. About 200 years later, during the time of Julius Caesar, huge amphitheatres were built and displayed hundreds of contests and fights. However it wasn’t until 29 BCE that the first stone amphitheatre was built. This structure was destroyed and later replaced by an even better one in 80 CE, the Colosseum. Gladiators were a very big and important part of the Roman Colosseum. They lived and practiced in Ludus Magnus, a gladiator training school behind the Colosseum. Initially, gladiators were prisoners of war who were forced to fight each other or wild animals for the entertainment of others. However, in the event that the gladiator was an especially skilled fighter, he could be considered professional and could become rich and famous. For example, Spartacus, one of the few well known gladiators, became...
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