A Study on Roman Ampitheatres

A Study on Roman Ampitheatres

Keywords The Colosseum Roman amphitheatres

Roman amphitheatres

If one were to ask any person what first comes to mind when they think of Roman civilisation most people would instantly respond with the Colosseum in Rome or the Gladiatorial games The Colosseum in Rome was a symbol of the power and wealth that Rome possessed at the height of her glory and even today the amphitheatre dominates the surrounding area and draws the eye like nothing else Roman amphitheatres became synonymous with the spread of roman culture throughout the empire and as such are an excellent case for understanding the spread of roman engineering practices as well as colonization of new territories1

A roman amphitheatre is a large freestanding structure often oval or circular which was built by Romans primarily for the purpose of entertainment2 Amphitheatres housed a variety of spectacles such as gladiatorial games or executions of prisoners The roman ruling elite understood that in order to keep the populace happy and complacent they needed to be provided with nourishment for both the body and for the mind As such those who belonged the roman ruling class the equestrians would often fund spectacles for roman citizens of lower classes to attend and be entertained by3

The history

Some of the earliest Roman amphitheatres date to the republic period however the majority of the most wellknown were built during the imperial period4 The word amphitheatre comes from the latin amphitheatrum meaning theatre in the round which differentiates amphitheatres from traditional greek theatres which were most often semicircular5 The Roman amphitheatre as an architectural phenomenon is believed to have roots in the Greek theatre traditions indeed the two are quite similar to one another in multiple respects6

There has been some debate over how Roman amphitheatres came to be invented with some scholars suggesting that they first appeared in the area of Campania which was wellknown for its displays of funeral games and later for its gladiatorial schools7 Interestingly it is possible that the Romans borrowed the idea of gladiatorial combat from the Campanians and adapted it for Roman ideals One should note however that it has also been suggested by certain scholars that the Roman style of stone amphitheatres originated in Romes Forum Romanum where a temporary wooden structure may have been built to provide a setting for gladiatorial games8 This wooden structure took the shape of the forum which happened to be oblong9 This idea of a wooden amphitheatre comes from Pliny who stated that Gaius Scribonius Curio constructed two wooden theatres which were moved together to become an amphitheatre to house the gladiatorial combats for the funeral games of his father10 Additionally there are also records which show that after the destruction of Romes first stone amphitheatre Nero built a new one of wood11

Later when the Romans began to build more permanent versions of this original structure they kept the same basic shape though it was changed to be more round which would provide more equidistant views of the spectacles below The first permanent amphitheatre is believed to be the one built at Pompeii and is a very simple construction compared to later amphitheatres12 The first stone amphitheatre in Rome was built by Statilius Taurus an associate of Augustus Unfortunately this amphitheatre was eventually destroyed and in AD57 Nero built a new wooden amphitheatre This construction was incredibly shortlived and was eventually destroyed as well13

Though Romes Flavian amphitheatre was built rather late most colonies had their own amphitheatres at least one hundred and fifty years before the Flavian amphitheatre was constructed14 Archaeological evidence suggests that the roman stone amphitheatres built outside of Rome were largely constructed for those roman citizens who helped to colonize the area and to help the spread of the idea of Romaness15 It has been suggeste

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