What Impact Did the Colosseum Have on Roman Social Values?
Its purpose was to be a gift to the Roman citizens, a massive breath-taking structure that conveyed the wealth, might and power of Rome, showing exotic, wild animals from all corners of the Roman Empire, showing off the extent of Rome’s conquests of different countries. It displayed the latest of Roman engineering and building techniques and showed re-enactments of famous Roman battles, including sea battles that required it to be flooded with water, which encouraged patriotism.
This was the wonder known as the Colosseum.
During festivals, huge crowds would converge on the amphitheatre for a day of games. Up to 50,000 people would watch gladiators fight wild beasts and even other gladiators. The gladiators were prisoners of war, slaves, and even criminals that had been sent through training schools. They often fought with mismatched weapons - the harder the competition, the greater the entertainment. Gladiators could either win freedom, or die trying.
The slaughter was immense – over 5,000 animals could be slain in a single day. Hunters spread throughout the provinces rounding up lions, tigers, panthers, bulls, hippopotami, rhinoceros’, and even elephants. These brutal spectacles were staged by the Government to divert the menacing hordes of Roman unemployed. Wealthy, intellectual Romans were often shocked by the carnage, but the poor found the entertainment an outlet for passions that might otherwise be turned against the State.
Leading up to the eventual construction of the Colosseum, we look back to events ten years prior. During the reign of the infamous Emperor Nero, the Great Fire of Rome of 64 AD destroyed the Amphitheatrum Neronis and other amphitheatres. Instead of rebuilding these famous, popular buildings, Nero built himself a fabulous palace with a lake and garden. He erected a colossal statue of himself at this site which became a landmark in the centre of the city of Rome.