If you’ve been to (or dreamed of) Rome, you’ve probably heard of a little old building called the Colosseum. It is of course not little at all, but it is very old. 1950 years old to be exact and still going strong. While the version we see today has been deteriorated by earthquakes and men, much of the original structure has been preserved. Curious why it was built in the first place? Let’s look a little deeper into this iconic roman structure.
The construction of the Colosseum started around 70 AD by the emperor Vespasian. He had the idea to create the Colosseum after a turbulent year following the death of Emperor Nero. Roman citizens were prone to revolt, so the idea of creating the Colosseum and a place for them to let out their frustrations (and blood thirstiness) was born. He believed if he gave the citizens a great gift, they would be on his side. He was right and by 80AD the Colosseum was completed. Reports from the time indicate over 9000 wild animals were killed for the inaugural games and grand opening and Romans loved their new spectator arena. The Colosseum was generally used for entertainment, but entertainment in ancient Rome was not just gladiator battles. It also included animal hunts, theatrical productions about ancient Roman mythology and public executions.
Did you know the Colosseum was actually called the Flavian Amphitheater, and it’s thought the nickname came from a colossal 30 meter tall, (that’s almost 100 feet), statue of Nero that was located just outside? The statue was called Colossus Neronis and the nickname Colosseum for the amphitheater was born. It makes sense, also because the Colosseum itself is quite colossus. In its prime it could seat up to 80,000 spectators.
The Colosseum was so popular that it was used for entertainment for hundreds of years. Around the middle ages it underwent many changes, no longer being used for entertainment, but at one point a cemetery and then even as a private castle for a noble family. To hear more about it’s original use, check out my podcast on the gladiators! Ciao a tutti!