Roman Colosseum


The Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre as it was known, was commissioned by Emperor Vespasian around 70AD.

The Colosseum seated approximately 45,000 people with further standing room. It is believed to have held up to 65,000 people.

The emperor and his family and guests would sit in the emperors private box.

There were specific seating areas for the different ranking citizens.

Senators had the best seats, followed behind by politicians, then ordinary citizens and soldiers, slaves and finally women sat at the top.

Much of the seating was made of marble, then wooden seats for poorer people and standing room for the rest.

Underneath the Colosseum was a labyrinth of tunnels and passages through which the entertainers, fighters and animals would travel. They then entered the arena through trap doors.

The Colosseum was opened by Titus, the son of Vespasian in 80AD with 100 days of games.

These games would include:

  • Gladiatorial Combats
  • Wild Animal Fights
  • Chariot Processions and Races

Gladiatorial Combats

The gladiators that fought in these battles may have been prisoners of war and slaves. Often criminals condemned to death became gladiators.

The fights would be to the death, and the bloodier the battle, the more the crowd cheered. Watching killings was entertainment.

Gladiators would fight each other and also wild animals.

Wild Animal Fights

Many animals were used in these fights, some more dangerous then others.

These would include:

  • Lions
  • Tigers
  • Leopards
  • Bears
  • Ostrich
  • Elephants

It was possible for hundreds of animals to be killed in a single day, by Beast Killers (Bestiarii)

Chariot Processions

These would parade through Rome led by slaves blowing trumpets and musicians playing flutes and horns.

There would be chariots led by wild animals and floats with entertainers, actors, dancers.

It was much like a carnival procession today.

This procession would enter the Colosseum, followed by the gladiators for the start of the games.

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