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  • The Coliseum

    The Romans were superb engineers. Their monuments make an impression on tourists not only with their size, but also with durability of stone walls and arches, which are giving a lasting evidence of their builder's skills.

    ENGINEERING AND ARCHITECTURE

    (66kB)  The ruins of the Coliseum nowadays.

    Before third century BC, the basic building materials were wood and brick and stone was only used to build city walls. The reason of changes in engineering was the introduction of cement in the third century BC. If brick elevations weren't covered with {bass-relieves or ceramics, they were whitewashed and rendered}. The Greek tradition of huge pillars and hand-made marble blocks was used as a decoration in huge public buildings. Here for the first time the aesthetic quality of buildings was noticed and the light and space became the elements of architectural design.

    Rome must have stimulate human imagination like Babylon did before. However, the splendour of Roman architecture is spoiled by boorishness. This allows to notice the difference between Greek and Roman art. The Roman civilisation is marked by vulgarism and materialism. These are visible even in the most prominent monuments.

    THE FLAVIUS AMPHITHEATRE

    Coliseum is one of the biggest achievements of Roman age. The construction of this huge amphitheatre, which allows us to admire its antic dignity, was started by Vespasian in 72 AD. It was finished by his son, Titus, in 80 AD. Its builders were mostly Jewish slaves, who inhabited Rome in large numbers. This huge building was given name of Flavius Amphitheatre; however, due to the fact that it was placed near the “colossal" statue of Nero it was called the Coliseum.

    We can say, that in history of Rome there isn't a single page, which wouldn't be more or less connected with the Coliseum, which had become the symbol of Rome. In 7th century Beda said: “As long as the Coliseum stands, Rome will stand as well; when the Coliseum falls, Rome will fall and when Rome falls, the end of the world will follow...”.

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    After the Norman invasion there was nothing left of the ancient Rome except for skeletons. Coliseum was destroyed and left deserted and became a source of building materials for the reconstruction of Rome. Until Benedict the 14th decided to save the remains of the amphitheatre and consecrated it and conducted the Stations of the Cross inside it and placed a cross in the middle of the arena. Later the cross was removed and returned to its place in 1926. For Christians, the Coliseum is the place, where many Christian martyrs died in front of bloodthirsty spectators.

    COLISEUM - THE PLACE OF SPORT EVENTS

    The most appealing Roman shows were the summer games and the circus – ludi circenes, which came into being during the last years of the Roman Republic and was aimed to strengthen the Roman fight spirit, which allowed simple Romans to feel like the masters of the world and decide about one's life and death. These games gave birth to the gladiator profession, who were trained to fight and kill each other in front of bloodthirsty viewers. Lions, tigers and even elephants, which were considered as horrible beasts, were killing gladiators and each other during the shows. According to Dion Kasius, during the celebration of opening the building, a hundred days long one, over 9000 animals were killed. After a battle between animals and men the arena was filled with water and see battles were fought on it. The great emperor Constantin and his successors wanted to put an end to horrible fights of gladiators, however the Romans didn't want the games to stop. The end was put to these bloodbaths in the fifth century, when the monk Telemach wanted to make the games illegal, but he encountered resistance of the crowd and was killed.

    THE ARCHITECTURE OF COLISEUM

    The coliseum had the shape of an ellipse and its longest diameter was 187m long and the shortest was 155m long. There were three lines of arches, each consisted of Doric or Ionic or Corinthian pillars. The ellipse, which consisted of 80 arcs, was the inside cicumference. Four arcs, which were the symbol of four rays, were the entrance to a corridor which surrounded the arena. In the middle of one of podium wings, called suggestum, was the emperor's throne and the rest of podium was occupied by senators and the emperor's family. The next places were for the knights. People who were married had their own seats and there were seats for families with slaves or people with protectors or common people. The coliseum had no roof, but during a heavy rain it was covered by a vast canvas by the crew Rawenna and Capo Mileno. These ships fought the sea battles when the coliseum was filled with water. In its full glory, the coliseum was the right demonstration of the Roman might. But even now, after many centuries that have passed, it is still the pride of Rome.

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