Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The Colosseum Rome, Italy

The Colosseum Rome, Italy

The Colosseum at dusk

Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheatre)

The Iconic Symbol of the Imperial Rome.

Built “between” 70 – 80 AD; for fulfilling the sadistic pleasure of the rulers of the Erstwhile Roman Empire; the Colosseum is the biggest structure (it is an amphitheatre) built in the Roman Empire. The size of Colosseum was such (165feet in height and 200 feet in length) that it could easily accommodate 50,000 spectators; all well segregated based on their status. The emperor was seated in separate cabin while Senators and people of high social status occupied the front rows. Ordinary men (who formed the majority) sat behind them and women just behind them.

Colossus with Nero’s head!

The Colosseum Rome, ItalyNero - Roman Emperor image courtsey:

It was Vespacin the Roman Emperor who constructed this elliptical (with perfect oval shape) theatre. Titus Flavius Vespacianus, (69-79) was the founder of the Flavian dynasty the theatre is named as Flavian Amphitheatre after his family name. A giant bronze statue of Colossus was there on the front of the theatre, later Emperor Nero (none other than that gentleman who fiddled when Rome burnt!) replaced its head and with a replica of his own head! It remains as a strange fact that the theatre later came to be known by the name of the statue of Colossus, and later got corrupt to become Colosseum! Eventually this statue was taken away to be melted.

That outlived the Empire.

The Colosseum Rome, Italy Map of medieval Rome depicting the Colosseum

The Colosseum is not just a colossal structure situated at the heart of Rome; it was companion to the history of the great Roman Empire which boldly outlived the Empire facing all strives and tribulations associated with the fall of the Empire. As a venue for some of the most brutal events ever taken place in the history of the world and as a structure standing witness for about twenty centuries; the Colosseum has got a lot of stories to tell, the, existence and fall of the great Roman Empire is just one among them, how many emperors have ruled over it; how many perished, how many executions, how many duels, and how many people were thrown before lions for entertaining the spectators? All stories of extreme power sheer greed.

Commodes the butcher-emperor!

The ‘Shows’ held in this amphitheatre were astoundingly real, duels were fought either to kill or die; most often rivals were not matching; when one was trained and armed gladiator his opponents may either a prisoner of war or a convicted person without any arms. Programs are all prearranged and begin when the Emperor takes his seat; various items are performed as if in a circus. Rich and noble people had trained slaves by name ‘gladiators’ who had to fight duels with those of other owners (a trained gladiator being an asset often he is not let to die; for the pleasure of audience some helpless man is left before him to be cut in to pieces). Emperor Commodes was not satisfied by just seeing it, he took part in fights. For him to fight some wounded convicts or invalids may be sent unarmed to the stage and the armed king enjoyed the pleasure of cutting him in to pieces, the king was always victorious; what a show!

Entertainment unleashed!

The Colosseum Rome, Italy The Colosseum

The Main and final show may be between two gladiators armed with short swords but Convicted persons and prisoners of war were also forced to ‘fight’ well trained and armed gladiators killing them were just a warm up exercise to the gladiators and a time pass to the viewers. Terror on the face of the victim and his helpless gesticulations when seeing death face to face with death were feast to the sadistic crowd. The stage made of wooden planks had underground chambers from where at times wild animals were unleashed all on a sudden there will be applause when wild animals tore the victims in to pieces! Those gladiators who fought valiantly at times gained applause and request from crowd for his release were sometimes admitted by the emperor, and then the gladiator may be given a wooden sword as a mark of release.

A dream turn nightmare,

At times for a joke the emperor will point a spectator -who was enjoying the show- to his guards; that unfortunate spectator will be forced in to the stage to ‘fight’ a gladiator armed with sword! At times may got gorged by a hungry wild lion released before him all on a sudden, there will be suspense what will be taking place. These are just comedies for the spectators who were not ‘invited’ to the stage! Wild animals like lion, tiger, rhinoceros, hippo etc were imported from as far as Africa and India for the ‘show’ and they were starved for days before the show!

Though mock; what a thrill!

The Colosseum Rome, Italy A map of central Rome during the Roman Empire, with the Colosseum at the upper right corner

This amphitheatre; the biggest structure built by the erstwhile Roman Empire was a mute witness of all these dramas unfolded within its walls and outside; spanning a period of 20 long centuries. If these real events were more dramatic than drama itself; Colosseum was venue for real dramas in the medieval period. After the fall of the Empire there were no slaves to be thrown to the lions, no gladiators for duels; Romans got bored and looked to the Colosseum for some entertainment; Colosseum had answers let there be real dramas! Mock- wars, sea-battles, ‘executions’, reenactments of fearsome historical events and what else? Bored Romans sighed in relief; those who (may be their great grand children) so far applauded at real events seeing real blood; got at least some mock events to cheer! The walls of Colosseum began to reverberate with the war cries of gladiators and wails of their victims, though mock; what a thrill!

From work-shop to shrine!

Later this structure had the fortunes and misfortunes to be venue for different ball games; far more different roles! It was used as quarters for the members of some religious sects, as fortress, workshop, as a Christian Shrine (it still has its umbilical chord with the Roman Catholic Church) and what else. The early stages of the consumer culture haunted the Colosseum in form of stone robbers who did not spare this invaluable treasure of a structure; for them it was a mass of stones to be robbed! Its walls still bear the gaping holes from where exquisite brass fittings were plucked off.

Doggy days!

Even nature did not leave it unscathed; several earth quakes, lightning fire; all rocked and ruined this unfortunate building. The scars we now see on the structure are the result of collective work of nature and the stone robbers. Colosseum got robbed, bruised, dismembered, down but not out as it was made of sterner stuff. It though bruised is still capable of attracting more tourists and travelers than anything else in Italy, it should be read along with the lines that Italy is the home of most of the classical works among which the bruised structure stands tall as a challenge.

An end to the nightmares,

The whole world has recognized the value of the Roman city and its pride the Colosseum and the Romans will never let anybody loot or tarnish it anymore. The archeological dept of Italy has been good enough to prevent further damages and for the fortunes of the world the present Colosseum is one of the best preserved World Heritage Site in the world.

Missed the bus!

The Colosseum Rome, Italy Original façade of the Colosseum

The Colosseum was built in 70 – 80 AD about 300 years after the original list of the Seven Wonders of the World was compiled (in about 3rd century BC) and by a narrow margin Colosseum missed the bus to get a seat in the list. Had Colosseum existed at that time it sure would have declared one as its architecture and prominence taken in to account. George

Who lives if Rome and Colosseum die?

English poet George Gordon Lord Byron has sung,

While stands the Colosseum,

Rome shall stand,

When falls the Colosseum,

Rome shall fall;

And when Rome falls

-the whole world.

The above lines show the affection people had towards the holy city of Rome and the Colosseum in particular. please remember that Lord Byron mentioned Colosseum neglecting Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, what else is required for the popularity of this towering and enchanting colossus; the Colosseum!.

1 comment:

экскурсии в барселоне said...

To my mind every person have to read it.