There is this strange, and uncomfortable curiosity about the Colosseum, which is by the way, classified as one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World and Rome’s most popular tourist site. Our desire to tour this monument was unquestionable. It was indeed a must, and yet, this robust curiosity is unsettling. And thus, I will start somewhere in the safe zone—a clinical discussion sans emotive impact.
The building of the Colosseum, also called the Flavian Amphitheater, began in the early 70s, by Vespasian, completed in 80 AD, under Titus’s rule. It was constructed of travertine, volcanic rock and brick-faced concrete, free-standing @ 4 stories hight at it’s peak, measuring 620 X 575 feet, equipped with shade-awning, and having the capacity to hold anywhere from 50,000-80,000 spectators at a time.
Astounding as it sounds, the entire Colosseum could be filled and emptied in 15 minutes because of adequate tunneling and passage ways.
The arena floor was made of wood which was covered over with a deep layer of sand to absorb the blood and fluids shed during the competitions. Underneath the arena floor, there existed a two-level network of cages where gladiators and animals were held before contests began.
Motivation to build the Colosseum was to boost the morale of Rome after the tyranical rule of the 4 previous emperors, and therefore, was utilized as a theater of entertainment, for the people—namely, the lower class.
Entrance fees to enter the theater were paid by the emperor, Titas. Further, at completion, he dedicated the Colosseum by holding 100 days of combat “games” expending the lives of 5,000 men and animals.
Those being held prior to their duel were primarily Gladiators who were generally slaves, runaway slaves, criminals, those who were condemned to die, and Christians. Sadly, handicapped, blind, crippled, would be pitted against each other or sometime duels with women would ensue.
There were many players involved in the “contests”, from those who set up variations of artificial stages—to reenact famous battles, jungle simulations for animal “hunts,” and Roman mythology settings.
For example, in the jungle setting, hunters would take down and kill lions, bears, cheetahs, bulls, elephants, crocodiles with arrows and spears. Or, the hunter would be mutilated, gnawed and crushed by the animal. One or the other would survive.
In the Gladiator duels, a Gladiator could admit defeat and surrender by raising a finger for appealing to end the duel. Though the controlling editor, often the emperor, had the last word, would often default to the crowd for a decision. The crowd would resound with “Let him go or kill him,” and driven by group-think would most often call for death.
What can I even say? I am almost without words. More than a million people were murdered here within four centuries during its active use. It was unconscionable, unscrupulous, unethical, immoral, and depraved.
To what extent would the devaluing of human life exist where execution, spearing, hacking, butchering, bludgeoning, cutting off of limbs etc., become a form of amusement and entertainment—culminating in an effort to “lift morale” of the down-trodden, Roman citizens?
Sadly, history indeed repeats itself as we do not have to look backwards very far to see the senseless slaughtering of millions of lives.
5 thoughts on “COLOSSEUM (ROME)”
SO GRIPPING! Seems so unfathomable until you think of the ways lives are lost today in different ways! 🙁
It is interesting that you are making this point, Jana. When I wrote the first draft, I ended it with the horrendous travesty the Colosseum represents–and it is for sure. However, you are so right when you think of wars, Rwandan genocide, Holocaust. . . and today, millions of lives lost needlessly. It causes me to pause and embrace each and every day of life as a gift from God.
Wow… I have been there but didn’t remember all those facts. So horrible and so sad!
So very unsettling. . .
These post forever memorialize an amazing trip. If I ever have the privilege and joy of a trip like this, I will follow your footsteps and just “ditto” your pictures and comments. You are doing the hard part. I would just want to experience it, and not go to all this work. So, thank you Sherry. 😉