people think of Rome, or when people think
of Italy… indeed, when people thing
of EUROPE one of the icons that shines
out is the Colosseum. Over 160 ft high
with eighty entrances, the Colosseum could
hold upwards of 50,000 spectators. Public
events such as gladiator fights, mock
naval battles, and wild animal hunts were
held at the Colosseum. During the staged
fights as many as 10,000 people were killed.
Fighters were slaves, prisoners, or even
Like its sister building, the Circus Maximus,
the Colosseum was built to keep the common
Romans occupied. Bread was often given
out for free during fights, along with
free admission to future fights. Romans
who were having fun watching men and wild
animals crash about didn’t riot
and didn’t try to kill their rulers.
The famous phrase “bread and circuses”
has become proverbial to describe those
who give away significant rights in exchange
for material pleasures or those who allow
themselves to be lead by the nose.
by Vespasian in AD 75 and completed
by his son Titus in AD 80, today the
Colosseum is one of its most famous
landmarks and tourist attractions. Although
it survives only as a ruin, it still
rates as one of the finest examples
of Roman architecture and engineering.
It is also a site of many Christian
pilgrims; According to tradition, persecuted
Christians were thrown there to beasts
after pained with the blood of the slain
to make them more palatable.
From the fourth story of the Coliseum
wooden masts supported a linen awning
that protected spectators from the sun.
Its seating was as hierarchical as Roman
society itself, having seats of marble
for the upper class, and benches of
wood for the lower. Ramps within the
arena made movement easy by the large
crowds, and on a catwalk suspended above,
trained archers would shoot enraged
animals should they get out of hand.
The wall that separated the spectators
from the events in the arena was about
15 feet high, but considering that many
of the events featured great cats such
as lions and tigers (who most likely
only wanted to escape) it proved too
short a distance for some unlucky spectators.