Monday, May 7, 2012

The Colosseum

The Colosseum, located in the Italian capital, was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It was commissioned in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian, however it was completed by his son Titus in 80 AD, being later improved by Domitian. 
It is a hugely impressive building, being the emblem of not only Rome but of Italy and its long and glorious history, emphasising one aspect of Roman culture. It stands as a glorious but troubling monument to Roman imperial power and cruelty. 

It has 80 arch entrances, allowing thus easy access to 55.000 spectators, who were seated according to rank. Vespasian ordered the Colosseum to be built on the site of Nero's palace, the Domus Aurea, to dissociate himself from the hated tyrant. His objective was to gain popularity by staging deadly combats of gladiators and wild animal fights for public viewing. Massacre was on a huge scale, one paradigm being the inaugural games in 80 AD, where by 9.000 wild animals were killed. 
Roman gladiators were usually slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals. These combats were attended by all the classes in Roman society, including the emperor, on several occasions.  
Unfortunately due to numerous vandalisms, fires and earthquakes, two thirds of the original building have been destroyed, hence the present Colosseum is merely a shadow of its former self. Despite this fact, it is still an impressive monument. 

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