Standing proud and mighty in the middle of bustling Rome is the large ancient Flavian Amphitheatre, we now call the Colosseum. Always on the top list of the first places to see in the eternal city and the globe of wonders. A landmark narration of the past and notable as very Roman, designed and established to suffice the hunger for control of its period’s powerful emperors. For almost two millenniums, the arena witnessed the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, wars between conquerors, the blossoming stage of the Catholic church to its present-day status as the largest religion in the world, and the city’s modern innovation. Here is the list of facts and myths about the Colosseum.
The construction of the Colosseum was a family effort with the father and sons team of emperors during the Flavian Dynasty alongside with the hundred thousands of human resources that helped build it. Emperor Vespasian started the project in 72 AD, and when succeeded by his son Emperor Titus after ten years, the latter completed the arena. And under the rule of his other son Emperor Domitian, renovations and designs were made.
A masterpiece created by sweats and blood. Aside from the engineers, designers artists, and builders commissioned to finish the amphitheatre, Jewish prisoners and slaves were part of the labour force too. Pushed to do the more exhausting job, slaves and prisoners worked on open-pit mines in Tivoli, excavating building materials like stones and rocks, lifting and transporting them to Rome manually, either by foot or using carts pulled by oxen. Through this link, you can see the distance between Tivoli and Rome.
Though internationally known as the “Colosseum” since the year 1000, the stadium came with many monikers. From its original Latin name Amphitheatrum Flavium, honouring the Flavian Dynasty emperors, translated to English as Flavian Amphitheatre to poetically accepted Amphitheatrum Caesareum, which refers to the classic title Ceasar. The Middle Ages Coliseum to many Romance languages translations, il Colosseo for the Italians, Coloseumul for the Romanians, le Colisée for the French, el Coliseo for the Spanish and Coliseu for the Portuguese.
Majority of the original exterior including walls, statues, designs, entrances were either destroyed or deteriorated through time. Only the whole framework showing the four floors and arches of the Colosseum, the arena, inside walls, a few gateways, remains of the travertine seats, Archeologicalempty rooms and the ethos of the events that happened here long ago were left. Restorations of the Colosseum will worship this year
Archaeological discoveries reveal that the amphitheatre could hold 50 to 80 thousand audiences, with their seating areas separated depending on their class. The nobles on the lower part while the poorer ones are on the upper sections. Special viewing rooms were given to the Emperor, Vestal virgins, politicians of high positions like the Senators or privilege knights.
Popularly, the Colosseum was used not only to host ancient gladiatorial fights but also other shows, games and rituals like animal hunt shows, athletic contests, sea battles, art displays and much more. Maybe, the Rome Olympics soon!
The execution place of Anti-Christian Policies. Many presume that during the Roman Empire period, the Colosseum was the site used to persecute Christian martyrs publicly. Romans valued and worshipped their pagan gods and saw Christianity as a threat and disrespect for their faith. General hostility towards Christ-believers was widespread during this time so public persecution is not uncommon. However, there is not enough evidence to support this claim.
The misconception of Vomitoria. Aside from Romans’ love for bread, cheese, olives, and grapes, our ancestors were fans of nauseating delicacies too like dormice and garum. They even brought them on theatres, like our equivalent of chips and soda. It was said that Romans ate so much that they had a room called Vomitorium or Vomitoria to discharge the foods and eat again. Not true! Vomitorium is not the literal translation of vomits, instead, it is mouth like open door used by spectators to exit after the shows.
The contribution of women in the Roman era. Gladiators are commonly described as active and frightening men, but female fighters or now modernly called gladiatrix also participated in the fights, games and festivals impressively like their male equivalent. There was no real political power for women, but there were a few significant female figures during this epoch like the Vestal Virgins. They were female priestesses who were in charge of traditional ceremonies for the Emperor and the Roman metropolis. They were treated with high respect and importance including involving them with many important occasions in the city and special seating area during shows held in the Colosseum.
The myth about Commodus and the 100 bears and lions that he slaughtered. Commodus was a Roman Emperor and whose reign started the decline of the Roman Empire. Commodus was an unpredictable leader. From a weakling leader during his joint rule with his father to a terrorising monarch that everyone feared. He had a keen interest in the gladiatorial show and to demonstrate his power, he often joined fights and proclaimed himself to be the reincarnation of Hercules. It is believed that alone, he killed 100 lions, and bears, elephants and even ordinary Roman citizens at the arena to show the senators and anyone who opposed him what he was capable of.
* Advanced Engineering in the Ancient world. Behind every stunning show is an organized and well managed backstage, for the case of the Colosseum, it was the hypogeum.