Monday, April 17, 2006
The Colosseum again by night..
The remains of the Colosseum is today one of the popular places that tourists go to Rome to see. In the days of ancient Rome, the oval shaped Colosseum was the largest arena in the world for public entertainment, seating 50,000 spectators with numbered tickets. It took 10 years to build. It was 4 storeys high, each with windows, arches and columns. There were 76 entrances on the ground floor. There were special entrances of the Emperor and for the gladiators who competed in the Colosseum.
When it was first built, the arena was filled with water and mock naval battles were enacted. However, this was not good for the floor or the foundations, and the water was drained away. Gladiatorial contests replaced the mock battles. These were fierce combats to the death involving men and wild animals.
Once people entered, they went up ramps to their seats. Seats varied according to how rich people were. Women and the poor stood or sat on wooden benches on the 4th floor.
One of the engineering marvels of the Colosseum was the coloured awning that could be spread overhead in hot weather.
The wooden flooring of the arena is now gone, and today we can see the rooms under the flooring where the gladiators and wild animals were kept waiting their contests.
Most shows in the Colosseum lasted all day. The morning events were comedies or animal shows, and the gladiator events were in the afternoon.
Thousands of men and animals were killed during the time these contests were held. The Colosseum's opening ceremony was in A.D 80, lasting 100 days. Gladiator contests were stopped by the Emperor Honorius in A.D 404, although animal combats continued for another hundred years.
Wild cats such as lions and leopards were captured by the thousand for animal contests. Often gladiators had to fight wild animals such as lions or leopards. The animals were starved for three days before the contest. The animal was pushed from a dark room into the blinding sunshine of the arena. If the animal killed the gladiator, it was then killed in another show by a man trained to kill wild animals.
Some animals were trained to do tricks in animal shows, but the vast majority died in the arena. It is estimated that over a million wild animals were killed in contests at the Colosseum. By the time the animal shows were stopped, entire species of animals had disappeared from their native habitats.(source)
Posted by Dario D'Onofrio at 3:22 AM