Sunday, December 13, 2009
THE ROMAN COLOSSEUM, ROME
The Colosseum, a huge amphitheatre, situated in Rome, Italy,
was built to celebrate the victories of the ancient Roman Empire.
It had a capacity of seating about 50000 spectators.
Its construction was started between 70 AD and 72 AD by the Roman Emperor Flavius Vespaian
after whom it was originally known as Flavian Amphitheatre.
It was completed in 80 AD by his son, Titus and further modified by the younger son, Domitian.
The Colosseum continued to be used for nearly 500 years, i.e., even
after the fall of Rome in 476 AD. In addition to various other forms of entertainment,
it was used for bloody fights of gladiators.
The gladiators were mostly prisoners of war or slaves specially trained
in schools set up nearby. They fought among themselves or against wild animals.
It is said that over 9000 wild animals were killed during its inauguration itself.
The life or death of the loser, in the battles between the
gladiators, depended on the whim of the spectators.
They could demand that the loser be killed by pointing their thumb
downwards or allowed to live by pointing it upwards.
In most of the cases the loser was mercilessly slaughtered by
the winner, on the demand of the mob or the king.
The Colosseum was 48 meters high, 185 meters long and 156 meters wide.
Only the northern part of its 545 meters long outer wall now exists.
The arena itself measured 83 x 48 meters.
The Colosseum derives its name from the huge statue of Nero which was known as Colossus.
This statue, which stood nearby, does not now exist.
Once a symbol of cruelty to man and beast, the Colosseum has
now become a symbol of opposition of death penalty.
Several anti-death penalty demonstrations were held in front of it in the year 2000.
Since then, whenever a prisoner is executed anywhere in the world,
local authorities illuminate it at night, changing its colour from white to gold.
Having 80 entrances and elaborate system of seat-allocation,
the Colosseum still serves a model for modern stadia all over the world.
It has now been voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.