Colosseum

The Colosseum or Coliseum ( Flavian Amphitheatre ) is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy. Built of concrete and sand, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. The Colosseum is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72, and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir Titus.

Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma, Italy

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IT certainly is a masterpiece of the ancient architecture. This building is a manifestation of the advancement of ancient Roman architecture. Coliseum was the entertainment center of the Roman Empire. It was one of the most important architectural works of ancient Rome, which played an important cultural, social and political role in Rome. Coliseum was a truly colossal work of ancient architects, who had managed to create a masterpiece using resources and technologies available to ancient Romans. At the same time, Coliseum mirrored not only technological achievements of ancient Romans but also cultural traditions, norms and standards of ancient Roman society.

HISTORY:

Coliseum was an epical building, which construction had started during the rule of Vespasian and was accomplished under the rule of his son, Titus, who honored his father on organizing the games in Coliseum, the largest amphitheater of the Roman Empire. The history of the construction of Coliseum is very important because this amphitheater was constructed by Roman empires to demonstrate their power, the greatness of Rome, and their devotedness to traditional Roman values. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that Romans had always been concerned with entertainments and amphitheaters where gladiators fought and various, often bloodthirsty, performances were organized, including symbolic naval battles. In such a way, Coliseum became a public place where Roman emperors such as Titus could demonstrate their love to Roman people and show their goodness. On the other hand, in actuality, Coliseum was a sort of public place where Roman emperors could shape their positive public image because, if they attended Coliseum, they hold the central place in the whatever performance was organized. It was the Roman Emperor who took decisions in the amphitheater concerning the life and death of gladiators, for instance, but he did it in response to the will of the public. In such a way, supporting the public opinion or taking decision that are positively accepted by the public, Roman emperors could have improve their public image and demonstrate what good emperors and wise rulers they were. Remarkably, Coliseum was constructed under two Roman emperors from Flavian dynasty. In such a way, Coliseum had become a symbol of their power (Claridge, 310). The construction of the amphitheater was very important from the political and social point of view because the public believed that the construction of the amphitheater is the manifestation of respect to Roman people, their needs and wants from the part of the emperor. In such a way, Titus, who accomplished the construction of Coliseum, used the amphitheater to promote himself and to impress the public with the greatness of his dynasty and his own rule because he organized one of the most remarkable, memorable and great shows which the Roman Empire had ever known.

ARCHITECTURE:

On analyzing the form of Coliseum, it should be said that it differs consistently from other buildings of ancient Rome. Coliseum is the building that has an oval form. The oval arena is located in the center of Coliseum, whereas the entire building is comprised with a complex system of arches in the three-floor arcades. Each of the arches in the second and third-floor arcades framed statues, which were probably dedicated to ancient Roman deities. In this regard, the religious theme comprises an integral part of the architectural structure of Coliseum. At the same time, sacred elements in Coliseum are rather decorations than true symbols of worshiping Roman gods.

In fact, Coliseum was designed to entertain the public. The arena of Coliseum was renowned for fights of gladiators and great shows organized for different occasions to entertain the public in Rome. Thousands of Romans attended Coliseum to watch gladiatorial contests and public spectacles as well as mock sea battles, animal hunts executions and other ancient Roman entertainments (Byrnes, 205). This is probably why the construction of Coliseum was more complex compared to Parthenon because Coliseum had a complex system of water supply to organize sea battles, when the arena of the amphitheater was filled with water. In addition, there were complex system of pathways to separate citizens, gladiators, and animals. The seats were ranged according to the social standing of the audience. This is why representatives of different social classes occupied different levels in Coliseum. For instance, the emperor and senators could have the seats closest to the arena, whereas slaves and women had the seats furthest from the arena.

SOCIAL STATUS:

At the same time, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that Coliseum mirrored cultural norms and traditions of ancient Roman society. In fact, Coliseum was a place where the social structure of the Roman society could be easily traced. In this respect, it should be said that the audience attending Coliseum took places respectively to the social status of individuals, which varied consistently. For instance, the emperor held the central place in Coliseum. He had the best place in the amphitheater and was surrounded by guards and the most respectable and renowned Romans. The major principle of the placement of the audience in Coliseum was grounded on the social status of individuals. The higher was the social rank of an individual, the closers his or her place to the arena was. By the way, women hold one of the lowest ranks in the Roman society. This is why they were normally placed at the upper rows of Coliseum next to slaves who held the lowest position in the social hierarchy of ancient Rome. In such a way, Coliseum revealed the social hierarchy of the Roman society.

In addition, Coliseum was the manifestation of ancient Roman traditions and values. In fact, ancient Romans always respected, bravery, courage, readiness to die, and physical force and perfectness. This is why gladiators’ fights were extremely popular in ancient Rome. Amphitheaters were places where such games took place. Romans enjoyed fights and it was a great honor for gladiators to fight in Coliseum because it became the main amphitheater of the Roman Empire, the largest and most popular amphitheaters of the huge empire. At the same time, Coliseum was a place where different performances were organized. As a rule, they glorified Roman emperors, the power of the Roman army and the greatness of Rome (Edmondson, Mason, & Rives, 145). In this respect, it is worth mentioning naval battles which were modeled and played in Coliseum. At this point, it should be said that Coliseum was a truly generous work of ancient Roman architecture because it had a very complex construction, which allowed to fill the arena with water for naval battles. In addition, Coliseum had a well-developed infrastructure because there were separate areas for gladiators, spectators, and even animals, which were often in performances and fights organized in the amphitheater.

SUMMARY:

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Coliseum is a remarkable building that symbolizes the achievements of ancient Roman architecture and culture. Coliseum was one of the greatest accomplishments of ancient Roman architects, which had survived to present days. In spite of destructions, Coliseum still impresses the imagination of modern people, whereas in the time of the Roman Empire, Coliseum was one of the most popular places, where people could entertain, watch gladiator fights, naval battles and other performances that strike the imagination of modern people. In this respect, Coliseum is the manifestation of the technological progress of the Roman Empire and its superiority over other states. At the same time, Coliseum performed an important social, cultural and political role. Therefore, Coliseum was a public place which mirrored the social hierarchy of the Roman society, its traditions and values.

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