|Amphitheatrum Flavium - The Roman Coliseum|
This photo was taken with a Canon EOS 10S with Fuji Velvia 100 positive film. I had an opportunity to live in Italy and Rome was one of my favorite destinations. The Coliseum and the Forums were some of my favorite subjects. The following article tells of the colorful history of the Coliseum.
Roman Coliseum by Gail Bellenger
When most people think of ancient Rome, they think of the incredible Coliseum; the grand oval amphitheater that was a central part of Roman culture. The setting where gladiators fought and crowds cheered. While this is true, there's a lot more to the Coliseum than merely an arena. It took two emperors about eight years to design and build it. Vespasian started it, but died before it was completed. His son and successor, Titus, finished the job and opened it with a celebratory 100 days of games. It was called the Flavian Amphitheater in honor of the Flavian ancestry of Vespasian and Titus.
It wasn't until somewhere in the middle ages that it was given the name Coliseum, due to a 'colossal' statue of Nero that stood near it. The amphitheater was designed to hold 50,000 people. It covers about six acres and is more than 150 feet hight. When Vespasian became emperor, right after a very trying time when Rome when through four emperors in one year, he decided to make an impression on the people, to quell the uneasiness. Nero had built a massive palace and artificial lake near the Forum, and the people were not happy with his extravagance, especially since most of them were starving or dying from disease.
Vespasian was an intelligent emperor. He knew he had to set an example for the people, so he drained the lake and began to build his project where the lake used to be. His gift was to give something back to the people; the Flavian Amphitheater. The design was based on class, but all were welcome to attend. The emperor and his family would sit on the lowest level, the upper classes on the next level up and the commoners and women at the very top levels. To protect against rain or the searing sun, poles were position out over the crowds so that fabric could be rolled out as a shelter.
It's also believed that protective nets were strung up in front of the emperor to protect him against blood splatters and gore from the games. There were 80 entrances, which allowed the entire amphitheater to empty within minutes, if need be. Below the arena floor were the holding cells for gladiators or animals. There are reports of the Coliseum being flooded so that pretend naval battles could be staged. Water would be diverted from an aqueduct or channel and the lower cells flooded.
When not flooded, the below ground structures would be used to raise and lower animals and people up to the arena floor. There were elevator platforms concealed so that slaves, gladiators and wild animals could be moved around quickly, almost without the audience members being aware. Throughout the life of the Flavian Amphitheater, thousands and thousands of animals and people were killed.
Photo via www.flickr.com