Monday, January 15, 2007

Collosal Sights

"While the Colosseum stands, Rome shall stand, but when the Colosseum falls, Rome shall fall - and when Rome falls, the world will end."


The three days I spent in Rome was not nearly enough to fully appreciate this beautiful, chaotic, fascinating city. I guess thus the saying, "Rome, a lifetime is not enough." What inspired awe in me most were it's ruined but very imposing monuments, the top among them...the Colosseum. I was in my element.

The Colosseum was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, after the family name of its builders, the emperors Vespasian and his son Titus. Its construction began in about 70 AD in Rome's Palatine, Esquiline and Caelian hills. Unfortunately Vespasian never lived to see the completion of what became the greatest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire. Titus oversaw the final construction of the amphitheatre and in 80 AD celebrated its opening with 100 days and nights of games. It is estimated that during those games some 5000 animals were slaughtered and 1000's of gladiators also fought to the death.

It is estimated that this massive structure could seat more than 50 000 in 15 minutes. This was due to some 76 numbered entrance arches and a ticket and assigned seating system. Every Roman senator had a reserved seat with his name carved in the marble base and regular citizens received a free ticket numbered with one of the entrance arches as well as a level number and seat number. Sound familiar? This is because the basic structure of the Colosseum and the ticket system is still used today for many gaming events.

The Colosseum was used regularly for almost 400 years. With the fall of the Empire, it was abandoned and gradually became overgrown. Exotic plants grew there for centuries as seeds had inadvertently been transported from Africa and Asia along with the wild beasts. During the Middle Ages, it became a fortress occupied by two of the city's warrior families. Now nearly 2000 years of war, earthquakes, vandalism and general wear and tear later, restoration has begun and this glorious ruin is once again open for public viewing.


The Fool said...

Wow! I can't imagine what those 100 nights of "games" were like. I think the bit about the seed disperal is a four-star tidbit. There's a story or two that can be brewed from that. Great info.
The photos are also a great way to start the day. What an inspiring place...even in a glossy. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.

Caroline said...

Although I am neither Italian nor Catholic, I am just a little obsessed with the Colosseum, and with the Sistine Chapel. Thank you so much for the wonderful photos and narrative! I may have to buckle and buy some printer ink to print out this entry.

Carla said...

Fool, yes, I too kept trying to imagine what 100 nights of games would be like. I'm sure the crowds were pretty worked up. I imagine the Colosseum has many secrets that we will never unearth.

Caroline, thank you for your compliment. I am so glad that you enjoyed the photos and narrative.