The Roman Circus and Amphitheatre. Definitions. circus: chariot race track amphitheatre: oval building for gladiatorial games, wild beast shows, etc. The Circus Maximus (The Greatest Circus). Located along a brook that ran between the Aventine and Palatine hills
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Definitions circus: chariot race track amphitheatre: oval building for gladiatorial games, wild beast shows, etc.
The Circus Maximus(The Greatest Circus) • Located along a brook that ran between the Aventine and Palatine hills • traditionally was thought to have been founded in the sixth century BC by Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome • By channeling and bridging the stream, an euripus was created that served as a barrier (spina) for the track. • Livy records that in 329 BC permanent starting gates added.
History of the Circus Maximus • Starting gates rebuilt in 174 BC • Seven large wooden eggs set up between columns on the spina to indicate the completion of each lap. • Reconstruction by Julius Caesar (60-44 B.C.)
Pulvinar After a fire in 31 BC, Augustus constructed the pulvinar, a shrine built into the seating below the Palatine Hill, which was used as an imperial box to watch the games and where images of the gods were installed after having been brought in procession (pompa) from the Capitol.
The Starting Gate In 33 BC, Agrippa supplemented the eggs with seven bronze dolphins, and had another set of eggs placed near the starting gates to mark laps for the charioteers.
The Obelisk • The obelisk taken by Augustus from Heliopolis soon after the annexation of Egypt in 30 BC was the first to be brought to Rome. • In 10 BC, Augustus also erected it on the spina as a dedication to the Sun and monument of his conquest of Egypt. Obelisks of Rome
The Obelisk Today In 1587, it was excavated at the order of Pope Sixtus V and removed to its present site in the Piazza del Popolo.
Dionysus of Halicarnassuson the Circus Maximus • Dionysius of Halicarnassus described the Circus Maximus in 7 BC as "one of the most beautiful and admirable structures in Rome." • It measured approximately 2,035 feet in length and 460 feet in width and could seat 150,000. • Outside, says Dionysius, "there are entrances and ascents for the spectators at every shop, so that the countless thousands of people may enter and depart without inconvenience." Inhabited by cooks, astrologers, and prostitutes, it was in this arcade of wooden shops (tabernae) that the disastrous fire of AD 64 broke out during the reign of Nero.
Roman Chariots Biga (two-horse chariot) Quadriga (four-horse chariot)
Other Circuses in Rome Circus of Nero Circus of Maxentius
Plan of Old St. Peter’s The cross on the spina marks the probable place, according to Lanciani, of execution of S.Peter = Chapel of the Crucifixion.
Obelisk of Nero’s Circus • Possibly quarried at Aswan in the reign of Nebkaure Amenemhet II (B.C. 19th Century), and erected at the pylon of the Temple of the Sun in Heliopolis. • Erected at the Julian Forum in Alexandria by the order of Octavianus (the first Roman Emperor Augustus [reigned B.C. 27 - A.D. 14]) • In A.D. 37 (40?), the then Roman Emperor Caligula transported it to Rome, and erected it in the Caligula Circus (later the Nero Circus (Circus Gai et Neronis), or the Vatican Circus). • The time elapsed ....., the then Pope Sixtus V [reigned 1585-1590] directed the obelisk to be re-erected at the center of the colonnaded square, so-called St. Peter's Square in 1586, in front of the "new" Basilica of St. Peter, which was under construction at that time.
Circus of Maxentius The Circus of Maxentius, built at the beginning of the fourth century near the Via Appia. It is the best preserved of all Roman circuses. It was 513 meters long and 91 meters wide, and held some 10,000 people.
The Obelisk • Created at Aswan (Upper Egypt, 640 km south of Cairo) by the order of Roman Emperor Domitianus for his accession of Domitianus in A.D. 81. • Carried to Rome and erected between the Serapeum Temple • Maxentius [reigned 306-312] moved it to the Circo di Massenzio. • At some unknown date, the obelisk was toppled and broken into a few pieces. • Finally, in 17th Century, Pope Innocentius X [reigned 1644-1655] decided to re-erect it in Piazza Navona in commemoration of his election. Because he had lived in the building which faces the Piazza Navona.
Stadium of Domitian • Built by Domitian in the Campus Martius for athletic contests • Used for several years for gladiatorial combats after the Colosseum was damaged by fire in217. • Arcades were occupied by brothels • Restored by Alexander Severus, and sometimes called in the Middle Ages circus Alexandri
Piazza Navonna • Seats for about15,000 spectators • According to the legend, S.Agnes met a martyr's death in the brothels in the arcades of this stadium, and in her honour a church was built in the ninth century in the middle of the cavea on the west side, which was afterwards known as S.Agnese in Agone or deCryptis Agonis • The Piazza Navona, the largest in the city, now called officially Circo Agonale, preserves almost exactly the shape and size of the stadium. The piazza itself corresponds closely with the arena, the length of which seems to have been about 250metres, and the surrounding buildings stand on the ruins of the cavea. • Under the church of S.Agnese remains of brick and concrete walls, travertine pilasters and the seats of the cavea are still to be seen, and other traces have been found beneath the existing buildings at other points. For excavations in the sixteenth century, see LSii.228‑231; iii.224‑225; iv.190; LR498‑500; HJ592‑594.
The Flavian Amphitheatre • Begun by the founder of the Flavian dynasty, Vespasian • Reached the top of the second level before his death in AD79 • His son and successor Titus added the third and fourth levels and celebrated the dedication of the enlarged structure in AD80 (Martial’s Spectalces) • Further minor additions were made by Titus's brother and successor Domitian • Later restoration work, especially in the 3rd century • The exterior dimensions of the wall are 188m length, 15m breadth, circumference 527m and height 50m HEIGHT: 48.5mDATE: ca.AD70-80
Built on the site of Nero's large lake in the gardens of his palace, the Golden House
The Facade • Exterior decorated with a facade of engaged columns and pilasters that serve no structural purpose • Half-columns of the first three levels from the ground floor upwards display the Greek architectural orders: • 1. Doric (with a cushion-like capital-piece above the actual column) • 2. Ionic (with spiralling volutes at the capital) • 3. Corinthian (with a capital in the form of acanthus leaves) • The top storey has Corinthian pilasters.
The Arena The floor of the elliptical arena (86m x 54m) was presumably made of wood, covered with sand for the gladiatorial combats and wild beast fights.
Provision had to be made for the drainage of the site through a sewer before any construction could begin • Natural flow of water through the excavated hollow was useful for the staging of mock naval battles in the arena • The substructure goes down 6.08m to a brick pavement excavated to reveal the remains of dens for wild beasts, elevators and other devices
Seats • For the spectators' protection against wild beast attacks a fence surrounded the fighting area • Behind this and on a platform about 4m above the arena was the podium for distinguished spectators, particularly city officials. • Above this is the cavea, where most of the seating was placed, consisting of two main sections • 20 rows of marble seats (visible in the center)
Velarium velarium: fabric canopy provided relief from sun