Any trip to Rome would be incomplete without at least walking past one of the most beautiful monuments of Ancient Rome, the Colosseum. I’ve visited here 4 or 5 times but each time still get the adrenaline rush imaging the vicious sports that would take place here. I’m sure whether to feel offended or excited by the events here. I understand some may be offended by the activities that took place, but I personally try to take away that emotion and acclimatise to what things may have been like back then. It’s not something I’d be happy to support nowadays, but it must be my inner historian, there is an interest and questionable nature about how and why the Roman’s did such things.
My love for the Colosseum is more about the architecture, and the lasting build of this monument. I work in the Construction industry now and I highly doubt some of the buildings we place up now would last as long as the Colosseum has stood. Construction began in AD 72 under Emperor Vespasian and was completely in AD 80 under his successor Titus. Following the completion, a few alterations were made later on (between 81-96 during the reign of Domitian). Anyone who’s read up on the Colosseum may also know that its other name is the Flavian Amphitheatre, and that’s due to these three emperors forming the Flavian dynasty. If you’re interesting in knowing the actual age of the Colosseum it’s 1,936 years… CRIKEY.
The representation of the Colosseum is now widely seen in films such as the Gladiator. This of course is what a lot of people base their imagination on when walking around the arena. Of course, the ruthless nature of gladiatorial bouts is clearly dramatized by Ridley-Scott in an effort to entertain in films like Gladiator. In reality, gladiatorial bouts were not the only attraction within Roman theatre. Chariot races, shows and mock battles were part of the entertainment put on for the Roman society. Animals were killed for entertainment, known as ‘venationes’ and criminals were executed in public (Cyreno, 2000). Although I may not agree with this, it’s factual and is what the arena was largely used for. No Shrinking Violet
Nonetheless, the gladiatorial bouts were perhaps the most famously remembered part of the public events due to the drama and action. The shows that took place have been documented by old school reporter Cassius Dio, in which it is stated that the most bloodthirsty games; to assumedly celebrate the conquest of Dacia, lasted 123 days. (Hopkins and Beard, 2004). Within this, ‘11,000 animals were killed, 10,000 gladiators fought’ (Hopkins and Beard, 2004: 51). That’s a lot of bloodshed.
You may be interested to know that offerings were given for the deaths of gladiators much like modern day grave stones or pots. Within these we can see the average age of the death of a gladiator, For example ‘Glauco…fought seven bouts and died in the eighth, aged 23 years and 5 days’ (Hopkins and Beard, 2004: 87). The approximate age most died at was 22 (Hopkins and Beard, 2004), that’s younger than me! No Shrinking Violet
So yes, the Colosseum holds a dark history of blood, death and battles. Now? It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Rome. It’s completely compacted with tourists photographing the old arches and columns, or visiting the many artefacts that are kept in here. Not enough to put me off walking to view it each time I visit.
You can read about other places in Rome here.
Hopkins, K and Beard, M. 2006. The Colosseum. Profile Books Ltd. Great Britain.