When Vespasian became the Emperor
of Rome in 69 A. D. he promised to make a difference. He did not want to live the rich
life that Nero had. Vespasian tore down Nero's Golden House and turned the land into a
public park. He also tore down Nero's giant gold statue called the Colossus. With the
money from the statue's gold Vespasian built an amphitheater. He called it the Colosseum
after the statue.
The Colosseum was a large center for
entertainment. It took ten years to build of marble and limestone. The Colosseum was the
largest building of its kind. It could seat 45,000 people. This is where the Romans
gathered to watch the gladiators. During the Colosseum's opening ceremonies in A.D. 80,
events were held for 100 days in which hundreds of animals and 2,000 gladiators were
||The Colosseum was oval shaped. It was
160 feet tall, and had four stories of windows, arches, and columns.
|The Colosseum was 160 feet tall,
and had four stories of windows, arches, and columns. Spectators sat according to social
class inside the Colosseum.
Photo courtesy and
©1997 Leo Curran, Maecenas: Images of
Ancient Greece and Rome
A wooden floor covered
the chambers where the gladiators and animals were kept.
Most events lasted all day. They began
in the morning with comedic contests and exotic animal shows. Professional gladiators
fought animals or each other in the afternoon. Gladiators used nets, swords, tridents,
spears, or firebrands. Gladiator fights were outlawed by Emperor Honorius in A.D. 404. Animal fighting combats
continued for another hundred years.
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