Roman Collusiums
Architecture of the ancient Roman Empire is considered one of the most
impressive of all time. The city of Rome once was home to more than one million
residents in the early centuries AD1. The Romans had a fine selection of
building monuments in the city of Rome including the forums for civic services,
temples of worship, and amphitheaters for recreation and play. The Romans made
great use and pioneered great architecture mechanisms including arches, columns,
and even mechanical elements in pulleys and early elevators. However, when one
tends to think of great buildings, one building stands out in Rome. This
building is the Flavian Amphitheatre, or better known as the Colosseum. When
discussing such a great monument such as the Colosseum, it is very important to
realize the time, place, and culture in wish it stood to fully understand both
its form and function. In the beginnings, Rome was both influenced by the

Etruscans of the North and Greeks of Italy and South but had its basic roots
from a long time of Samnite domination2. The Etruscans were that of an
interesting type as described by Peter Quennell: The Etruscans...combined a
passionate devotion to the ordinary pleasures of life with a haunting fear of
death. They were cruel, too, and deeply superstitious...their victims were
ordered to fight among themselves until the last had fallen. The Etruscans would
have a strong impression in Roman lifestyles and philosophies. For example, the
purple robe worn by leaders would be later adopted by the Romans. They also were
the influence which brought gladiatorial battles of sacrifice into the Roman
culture. This was a time of blood thirsty humans who loved the site of battle.

Even an early christian named Alypius proclaimed that he "took away with
him a mad passion which prodded him not only to return (to gladatior events)
with those by whom he had first been forced in, but even ahead of them and
dragging in others."3 This was a time of paganism, which meant sacrifice
and death. Early christians were persecuted for their beliefs in the first few
centuries. Clearly in Rome, the focus was not only on religion or the emporer,
but we have a focus on leisure and activities. It is said that of a
three-hundred and sixty-five day year that one-hundred and fifty days were
celebrated as regular holidays, with over ninety days given up to games4. This
type of lifestyle would dominate the cities and architecture of the Romans for
some time to come. The people of Rome enjoyed theatres, battles, races, baths,
comical events, and of course the game of death. There were many forums,
temples, and many amphitheaters in the history of Rome, however only a few stand
out even today. The Colosseum is the greatest standing building of Rome, and one
of the most recognized worldwide architectural achievements to this day. The
amphitheater is a type of architecture that was without Greek precedents. This
makes sense since its primary purpose was to hold gladitiator fights and brutal
shows which were banned in Athens at the time. Such events held in Roman
amphitheaters were horseracing, gymnastics, mock cavalry battles, footraces,
prizefighting, wrestling, fights between animals, between men, animals and men,
and even naumachiae, or mock sea battles5. One of the first amphitheaters was
the Pompeian amphitheater of Pompeii of 30 BC. Like the Colosseum, it was oval
in plan. It was supported on great masses of solid earth pierced by a broad
corridor at each end. Stone seats were added at one time but most spectators sat
on the earth or wooden chairs. Although this amphitheater was a great
innovation, it would be eclipsed by the Flavian Amphitheater, better known as
the Colosseum. The great building although fitting and plain in design to its
surroundings of Rome still stood out due to its sheer monstrosity and oval
shape. Although the site viewed today is still a marvel, back in the days of its
prime it was a spectacular site that would be difficult to apprehend with only
words[TVK1]. [TVK2] The city which held the great structure was full of great
examples of the use of arches, columns from every order, and of course sheer
size. When traveling the city to the Colosseum the whole area had been paved and
railed off. The approach was taken by cobbled slabs of lava, and then one
entered an area paved with travertine more than five thousand feet wide and
surrounded by huge boundary stones6. To a spectator at the time the Colosseum
from the outside is described by the romantic poet Johann Wolggang von Goethe:

When one looks