TheColosseum A presentation made by: Dellis Athanasios, Paliakos Angelos, Rigas Konstandinos, Papaevgeniou Panayotis
In this presentation we will see... • The Colosseum – Introduction • History of the Colosseum • Architecture • Games • The Colosseum in the world • The Colosseum – Touristic exploitation • Has the Colosseum remained intact? • Famous reflections on the Colosseum • Interesting Facts • Why is it special? • OtherInformation • Bibliography
Chapter 1 The Colosseum – Introduction
In this chapter we will see... • Basic Information • Origin of the Name
i. Basic Information • It is elliptical in plan and is 189 meters long, and 156 meters wide, with a base area of 6 acres (24,000 m2). • The height of the outer wall is 48 meters. The perimeteroriginally measured 545 meters. • The central arenais an oval 87 m long and 55 m wide, surrounded by a wall 5 m high, above which rose tiers of seating. • Just outside the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine (Arco di Costantino), a 25m high monument built in AD315 to mark the victory of Constantine over Maxentius at Pons Milvius. • It was completed in 80 AD during the reign of Titus.
ii. Origin of the Name • But what does the word "Colosseum" mean? Τhe building that we today call the Colosseum was never called the Colosseum in its own time when it was used as an amphitheater. It was called the Flavian Amphitheater. (=An amphitheatre is an open-air venue used for entertainment, performances, and sports. The term derives from the ancient Greek ἀμφιθέατρον, from ἀμφί (amphi), meaning "on both sides" or "around" and θέατρον (théātron), meaning "place for viewing"). • The word "Colosseum" means, as the English etymology would suggest, “very, very large”. • The name Colosseum dates back to the XI century and its origin is uncertain.
ii. Origin of the Name • The most popular version is that the name comes from a colossal statue of Nero, called Colossus Neronis. The statue was one of the most visible (and arrogant) features of Nero’s residence. • It was a 36 meter bronze statue of Nero, which was built in imitation of the Colossus of Rhodes.
ii. Origin of the Name • When the Emperor restored the land to the people of Rome and gave back to them this marvellous gift of the amphitheater, because it stood next to the colossal statue, now with the head of Nero removed and the head of the sun god Apollo put on instead, with rays coming out from the head, the name "colossal" that applied to the statue eventually was applied to the Colosseum. But it wasn't called like that until the writer Bede named it so in the eighth century, A.D.
Chapter 2 The Colosseum – History
In this chapter we will see... • Prehistory to Antiquity • Antiquity • Middle Ages • 1300-1700 • Modern times • Emperors
i. Prehistory to Antiquity Prehistory: Before man made his appearance in the site of Rome, the valley where the Colosseum now stands collected the waters from the hills, thus creating a small lake. In the fo;;owing map you can see the geography of the city before human settlement. The Tiber river would flood the area of the Circus Maximus, and part of the Campus Martius was a marsh, the Palus Caprae, or Capreae (the goats' marsh)
i. Prehistory to Antiquity VII CENTURY BC: When people of Latin, Sabine and Etruscan origin settled on the hills, Rome was born. The first walls were built around the Palatine by Romulus, first king of Rome. According to legend Romulus disappeared near the PalusCaprae, where he was reviewing the army.
i. Prehistory to Antiquity 508-44 BC: The Romans drain the valley in early republican times and build houses, public buildings and temples. The area of the ancestral lake becomes the juncture of four regions of ancient Rome.
i. Prehistory to Antiquity I CENTURY BC: Centuries go by, Rome grows and the site of the Colosseum is improved. Drains are built and the lake, where the Colosseum now stands, disappears. The place is full of houses and temples, since the site is the meeting point of four of Rome's regions.
ii. Antiquity • The city needed an amphitheatre, as the only one with a (partially) stone structure, which had been built by Statilius Taurus in 29 BC, was too small. • The emperor Caligula (12-41 AD) had started the works for a new amphitheatre, but Claudius (10-54 AD) stopped them when he came to power. Nero, the emperor, refused to use the old Statilius' building and preferred to have his own amphitheatre built in the Campus Martis.
ii. Antiquity • On July 19, 64 AD a fire starts in the city, quickly spreads and burns for six days. According to Tacitus, upon hearing the news, Nero organizes a relief effort paid from his own funds. After the fire Nero opens his palaces to the homeless and arranges for food to be delivered to the survivors. In the area cleared by fire Nero builds his new palace, known as the Domus Aurea: a huge space (size debated between 40 and 120 acres) with buildings, parks, fake fishing villages etc. • Nero dies in 68 AD and after that the Flavian family comes into power.
ii. Antiquity • The emperor Vespasian is acknowledged as emperor by the Senate in 69. He gives back to the Romans most of the land that Nero had occupied in the city centre and had an amphitheatre (public facility) built in the former Nero’ s residence and a huge artificial pond. • It took about ten years to build the amphitheatre. • Vespasian started the works in 72 AD and his son Titus dedicated it in the year 80 with magnificent games that lasted one hundred days. It is generally accepted that the building was completed by the following emperor, Domitian, Titus' brother.
ii. Antiquity • In the amphitheatre, a Roman invention, shows that we would condemn today were held: the most popular were the venationes (hunts) and the munera (gladiatorial games). • Near the Colosseum Domitian, four ludi, the prisons where gladiators had their training, were also built • The bestiarii, who fought against the beasts, trained in the Ludus Matutinus, so called because the show with the animals was held in the morning. Then there was the Ludus Gallicus, the Ludus Dacicus and the Ludus Magnus.
ii. Antiquity • The first repairs were probably made during emperor Antoninus Pius (86-161), as proven by one Corinthian capital of a column of that age found by the archaeologists, after a fire had destroyed 350 houses in the city. • Major repairs, actually an almost complete rebuilding, were carried out after 217 AD, the year in which the upper floor was struck by lightning and went on fire.
ii. Antiquity • The embers set alight the wooden floor of the arena that in turn collapsed, igniting the wooden structures beneath it and the rest of the building. • The Colosseum became an enormous brazier that stopped burning only after the fuel was consumed. Almost nothing was left of the Flavian building, and for five years the shows were held at the circus.
ii. Antiquity • It took more than thirty years to rebuild the Roman amphitheatre. Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, also known as Heliogabalus or Elagabalus (203 – 222) started the works. • The building - still unfinished - was reopened and dedicated to the gods in 222 under Alexander Severus, who ordered that the taxes paid by pimps, prostitutes and homosexuals would be destined to the repair of public buildings, among which the amphitheatre. • Actually the repairs were completed only in 240 under Gordian III and a coin was minted for the occasion.
ii. Antiquity • Gordian wanted to celebrate in Rome a lavish triumph for his victory in the war against the Persians, and had collected 32 elephants, 10 elks, 10 tigers, 60 lions, 30 leopards, 10 hyenas, 1000 couples of gladiators from the imperial ludi, 6 hippos, 1 rhinoceros, 10 bears, 10 giraffes, 20 Asiatic wild asses, 40 wild horses and many other animals. • However, Gordian died in Persia in mysterious circumstances, maybe in a battle near today Iraq. Roman sources suggest that Gordian died somewhere else and do not mention the battle. • Philip, who succeeded Gordian as emperor, came to Rome and used all those animals. They were first exhibited and then killed on occasion of the shows organised for the millennium of the city: April 21, 248.
ii. Antiquity • The amphitheatre was again damaged - according to some sources - during the reign of Decius (201–251) or of Trebonianus Gallus (206–253). • Decius led many persecutions against the Christians; among the victims were the bishop of Rome, Fabianus, and the future saints Ireneus, Abundius and Policronius. • In 262, during the reign of Gallienus (218-268) a violent earthquake devastated the Eastern Mediterranean; also Rome was affected, so much that the following year a plague epidemic spread in the city.
ii. Antiquity • In 312 the Senate dedicated the triumphal arch that is still standing near the Colosseum to the emperor Constantine and replaced the face of the Colossus with that of the new emperor. • In 320 the amphitheatre was again struck by lightning, but it wasn't heavily damaged. • From this date onwards no more fires are reported, but there have been many earthquakes. • In 357 the emperor Constantius II (317-361) visited Rome and was very impressed by the amphitheatre.
ii. Antiquity • The last gladiatorial combat is recorded in 404, after emperor Theodosius established Christian orthodoxy, banned paganism and started persecuting its followers. • It was in this period that most ancient Roman traditions and lifestyle ceased to exist. • Also, from these years we have no further literary information about the Colosseum, and the only sources are the texts of inscriptions on stone slabs. • The Visigoths sack Rome in 410 AD. The amphitheater is used as a cemetery.
ii. Antiquity • At the end of the IV century Rome still counted between half a million and one million inhabitants, but after the shock of the invasion their number halved. • The following sacks further reduced the population and at the end of the V century/ beginning of the VI there were only about 100.000 Romans left in the city. • Between 425 and 450, probably after the 443 earthquake (abominadus), Lampadius carried out more restoration works on the arena, the podium and on the terraces at his own expense. After the 429 and 443 ones, another earthquake devastated Rome in 470, and in between, in 455, the city was again sacked (by Vandals).
iii. Middle Ages • From the IV century several materials were taken away from the Colosseum. Some drains were also obstructed, as studies have discovered. • The last repairs to the Colosseum - dating back to 484 or 508 - are the ones that the Decius Venantius Basilius had ordered - at his own expense: repairs to the arena and podium, damaged by an "abominandus" earthquake. • The amphitheater is now oversized for the reduced population of the city so Romans began recycling its materials, as travertine existed in abundance. Everything was recycled, even the bricks.
iii. Middle Ages VI-IX CENTURY: CENTURIES OF NEGLECT The valley starts filling up with earth; a road is built through the arena and the pillaging of material starts. The Colosseum is now property of the church of Santa Maria Nova.
iii. Middle Ages • This spoliation started during the reign of Theodoric (454 – 526) and it was systematic. • In those times the only stable institution was the Church, and it was Pope Gregory I the Great (590-604) who introduced the practice of recycling ancient temples, buildings and halls and turning them into Christian churches. • The valley of the Colosseum started to fill up with earth, as the drains had stopped being maintained.
iii. Middle Ages • During the Gothic War (535-553) the city was repeatedly starved and sacked by the Ostrogoths, led by king Totila. • Historians report that when Totila entered Rome in 545 there were only 500 people left, and it was probably during the Gothic War that most of the metal grips holding the travertine blocks together were systematically removed. • It seems that for some time the amphitheatre was closed by wooden barriers, which were removed later on. In addition, the inner corridors were turned into houses.
iii. Middle Ages • Rome had become a little city (90,000 citizens) concentrated in a small nucleus, surrounded by fields, ruins and farms, and this situation lasted up to about the end of the nineteenth century. • The Colosseum remained outside the centre of the medieval city, which was concentrated on the banks of the river.
iii. Middle Ages • Further earthquakes in 801 and 847 probably made more damage. • During the illiterate Middle Ages, all recollection of the purpose of the amphitheatre had gone lost and people started to imagine that the building had been a temple dedicated to the Sun God, or to the devil. • Then, many legends started to circulate about the massive round building, saying that it was a palace of Titus and Vespasian, a temple of demons... and more.
iii. Middle Ages This print is a reconstruction of the state of the city around year 1000. The view is from the East and shows how the Colosseum was practically still intact, as were many ancient temples and monuments (e.g. Hadrian's mausoleum). Within the walls of the city empty spaces are predominant.
iii. Middle Ages • Between the end of the IX century and the beginning of the X there was a great development of the Colosseum “residences”. Then, it started to be called Amphitheatrum Coliseum. • In 1084 an army of 36.000 Normans sacked Rome. The city fell into the hands of baronial families who were at constant war and lived in tall towers for safety reasons. • One of the strongest families, the Frangipane, occupied the Colosseum, which was transformed into a house/fortress, and walled a large area around it. The Colosseum was then occupied and declared a property of the free municipality of Rome. However, in 1159 the Frangipane came back and reoccupied the building.
iii. Middle Ages • In 1231 part of the SW wall had collapsed during a very violent earthquake, but the "big one" took place in 1349. • It damaged the city extensively and destroyed other external arches on the Southern side In the XIV century the Orsini and Colonna families were granted permission to remove stones and marble. from 1309 to 1377. • During this period the economy of the city collapsed, and at the end of the XIV century the population had declined to 17,000 (at the peak of its imperial expansion Rome counted 1 million inhabitants or more).
iii. Middle Ages • The area once again became a den of criminals, a dangerous and violent place. • In 1439 the Colosseum travertine was used to build the tribune of St. John's Lateran. It was then that the removal of marble, stones and bricks really started, and it lasted for generations. Many palaces and churches were built with stones taken from the Colosseum.
iv. 1300-1700 • In 1381 a section of the Colosseum was donated to the religious group called Confraternita del Santissimo Salvatore ad Sancta Sanctorum. • It seems that as early as the XV century some "archaeological" excavations were made which brought to light the drains that cross the substratum of the amphitheatre, and the wide pavement around it. • These elements were again unearthed only in 1895. • By now permission to take away the stones was easily granted by the Popes (under payment, of course), who exploited such a vast cheap source of building materials for their projects.
iv. 1300-1700 XV-XVIII CENTURY: THE LOOTING WORSENS For centuries thousands of cartloads of stones are taken away from the amphitheatre to build palaces and churches
iv. 1300-1700 • There is evidence that in 1439 the stones were used to repair the tribune of St. John Lateran Basilica • In the XVII century the monument had again become a den of derelicts and criminals. • After long years of abandon, in 1700 Pope Clemens XI had the arches closed, a cross placed in the arena and the site used as a manure deposit for the manufacture of saltpetre, destined to a nearby gunpowder factory. • In 1703 three arches of the second SW ring fell down because of an earthquake and Clemens found a way to use the travertine to build the new monumental port on the river.
iv. 1300-1700 • In 1743 the little church inside the Colosseum was restored again. In 1749 Pope Benedetto XIV declared the monument a public church consecrated to the memory of the Passion of Christ and His Martyrs; • The Pope also founded in 1752 a religious Arciconfraternita degli Amanti di Gesù e Maria (Brotherhood of the Lovers of Jesus and Mary) which started holding holy processions: the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross). • The faithful congregated at the oratory of Santi Cosma e Damiano in the Forum, where the spiritual teaching started in the early afternoon.