The Roman Colosseum is known by many as one of the most prominent traces of the Roman Empire, but it symbolizes more than an architectural feat. Vespasian, and his son, Titus, used the Colosseum as an appeasement to the Roman citizens after an era of private luxury and tyranny. The Colosseum, built in on the former gardens of Nero’s palace, stands as a symbol of a new era, as well as a gift from the new ruling family that had no physical ties to the previous family. The use of the Colosseum is obvious, but the purpose it served for late Vespasian is not clear, though it’s physical location, the symbolism behind it and the primary sources of the time period add to the significance of the monument.
The Coloseum’s remains lie in modern day Rome, though its physical significance was much more obvious in the late hundred century of Vespasian’s rule. Before Vespasian had restored the area for public use, the land was used as a pond for Nero’s private garden at the Golden House. The Great fire of Rome, 64 C.E, had destroyed the previous amphitheater (Rome Reborn); Vespasian had nobly restored the land for public, instead of a private palace for a tyrant, or at least that is the view shown to the Roman citizens. The Colosseum, or Flavian amphitheater, is not at its full size today but the evidence of its massive structure can still be physically seen. The building is no longer stable after its many uses over the thousand years it survived, though the discussion over restoring the monument has reached the higher levels of the Roman city government, (Natason 2). The location of the monument, along with the Flavian cling to previous emperors like Augustus, and the attempts to further themselves from Nero, all seem to suggest that the Flavian amphitheater was one of the efforts to prove that the Flavian family was fit to rule.
Vespasian’s, and the Flavian family, began their rule after a rough era in Roman history, where the people of Rome were recovering from the aftermath of a horrible emperor, Nero, and a civil war. In The Lives of Twelve Caesars, the Colosseum is mentioned as one of Vespasian’s achievements, and the attitude of the monument can be seen,
“He also undertook new works, the temple of Peace hard by the Forum and one to the Deified Claudius on the Caelian mount, which was begun by Agrippina, but almost utterly destroyed by Nero; also an amphitheater in the heart of the city, a plan which he learned that Augustus had cherished,” (Suetonius).
Vespasian aligns himself with two deified, loved emperors, Claudius and Augustus, while removing himself from Nero, both political moves, by constructing this monument for the people. It is not a secret to historians that during Flavian rule there was an increase in propaganda, especially under Vespasian (Journal of Roman Studies). Vespasian’s propaganda ranged from the coins (Jones), which were used to celebrate his military victories, from giving financial reward to writers, as long as their pieces...