The Roman Colosseum
Trip Start Oct 24, 2010
51Trip End Jan 16, 2011
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The Roman Colosseum is an extraordinary complex. This is not just because of it's size and complex design, but because of how well it was designed to perform the grisly function it did so well, and the social structure that supported it.
It was in this sand covered arena, that Gladiators would enter, and turn toward the Emperor and declare " We who are about to die, salute you!" and were rewarded with cheers from 50,000 Roman spectators. Some of these gladiators, very few of them, would achieve star status, and have their names scratched on Roman walls as enduring ancient graffiti. Most met a very grisly end, often at the direction of the Emperor himself or a vote from the spectators, based on their review of how well he had fought. It all seems like some ancient talent show
At times there would be surprises for the contestants. Using a complex system of ropes and pulleys, Romans would lift up wild animals to the arena, which they had imported from far corners of the known world. These beasts would appear from behind screens located around the edge of the arena. Imagine that. "Sup rise! Here is an hungry and very angry African Lion for you to deal with!"
Gladiators were carefully matched with weapons. Often defensive vs offense. During halftime there would be more diversions, like dog fights and often there would be events involving helpless Christians vs Lions, Hippos, Bulls, you name it.
The Colosseum was built and inaugurated in 80 AD. To mark the occasion Titus (79-81 A.D.) held games that lasted 100 days and nights, during which some 5,000 animals were slaughtered. Trajan (98-117 AD) topped this by holding games that lasted 117 days and nights. This killing spree marathon resulted in the deaths of some 9,000 gladiators and 10,000 animals. Talk about shock and awe!
The structure itself is circular and has three levels of arches
The whole operation of the Colosseum games was supported by a system that involved training camps or stables, where gladiators were trained and prepared for their events. These "stables" had their own underground entrances to the Colosseum, and so did the Emperor.
We had beautiful weather to walk around the structure. There was an Arch nearby. It was built by Constantine to commemorate the Roman conversion to Christianity. Imagine, in 300 AD, you could be killed for being a Christian. Then in 400 AD, you could be killed for not being one. Go figure! A few other things changed as well. The use of crucifixion was ended, so Christian were no longer crucified. However, since fire was clearly associated with the devil and inferno, as Christians, they cheerfully continued to burn people alive with gusto.
Enjoy the view of the Colosseum.