Impressions of the Colosseum During Roman Times
On approaching the colosseum, a spectator in Roman times would have
been overwhelmed by its sheer size and beauty as it stood against the
skyline perhaps higher than any other building in close proximity. The
roar of over 45, 000 people would have greeted them as they neared.
Upon entering, the spectator would have been amazed at the sheer
volume of the people the space could accommodate as well as the
different safety and comfort features.
The architects took into account not only the appearance but the
firmness and function of the colosseum. The clever architecture meant
that every spectator had an unimpeded view of the arena and of the
emperor’s reactions to the proceedings. Seats, corridors and stairs
were planned in order to allow the public easy access and exit and to
keep the different social classes separated.
The strict social segregation meant that the two main entrances led
directly to the central boxes where the emperor and senators would sit
while a series of other pathways led the other spectators to their
designated seats. Most of the seats were made of a kind of rock called
travertine which could withstand heavy pressure. However, the seats
reserved for dignitaries were made of marble.
Other safety features included a fence which could be raised around
the central arena when animals were being used in the proceedings.
There was also a giant awning called the Velarium which could be
unwound to provide shelter from the elements.
There 80 arches on the ground floor, four of which served as main
entrances. The columns here were Doric in style, those on the second
floor were ionic and the ones on the upper floor were Corinthian. The
attic was divided into panels by Corinthian columns, with a
rectangular window every second panel. A series of bronze shields was
affixed all around the attic on the panels without the windows. The
other arches were numbered for easy access to seats. For support and
strength, the columns lines up with each over on each story. The
architecture of the Colosseum would have been amazing for the Roman
Which aspects of the Roman games are the most difficult for someone
living in the twenty-first century to understand? How far can the
aspects you have chosen be explained in terms of Roman values?
For someone living in the twenty-first century, the most difficult
things to accept would have been the casual way in which people’s
lives were destroyed, the disregard for people from other religions
and cultures, the sadistic viewing of ritual murder for entertainment,
and the inhumane way in which animals were treated.
By modern standards, gladiator combats are cruel and violent. However,
we cannot simply condemn the norms of Roman society without trying to