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Amphitheatres are "theatres in the round" ‘amphi’- means ‘around’ in Greek. An amphitheatre is for action: it's a sports arena, where the spectators sit around the field. They need to see, but they don't really need to hear, so an amphitheatre can be much larger. Colosseum IS THE largest and THE most famous ancient Roman amphitheater. The emperor Vespasian, who ruled Rome from ad 69 to 79, began construction of the city’s Colosseum and his son, the Roman emperor Titus, dedicated it in ad 80. The Colosseum was completed by Vespasian’s younger son, Domitian, who succeeded Titus as emperor in 81. The structure was originally called the Flavian Amphitheater. Modifications and restorations necessitated by fires and earthquakes were made to the Colosseum until the early 6th century. In succeeding centuries the Colosseum suffered from neglect, earthquakes, and damage done by builders. Still, slightly more than one-third of the outer arcades, comprising a number of the arches on the north side, remain standing. The inner skeleton, which supported the cavea (seating space), is also substantially intact. All marble, stucco, and metal decorations, however, are gone.
The Colosseum in Rome (70-82) is best known for its multilevel system of vaults made of concrete. It is called the Colosseum for a colossal statue of Nero that once stood nearby, but its real name is the Flavian Amphitheater. It was used for staged battles between lions and Christians, among other spectacles, and is one of the most famous pieces of architecture in the world.Art Resource
the first record of a gladiatorial fight dates back to 264 BC, when the sons of Brutus Pera offered such a spectacle in the Forum Boarium in Rome (an area on the left bank of the Tiber used as a cattlemarket) to honour the memory of their father. Again in 216 the Forum hosted a combat of 22 pairs of gladiators; in 183 sixty pairs of gladiators fought at the funerals of Publius Licinius Crassus; in 174 a show lasted for three days. For a long time in Rome, for lack of a proper amphitheatre, the shows were organized in the Forum or in the Circus Maximus. In 384 BC censor Gaius Maenius had wooden balconies built on top of the shops around the Forum, and since then the word "maenianum" indicated the stalls of an amphitheatre.
Each seating level at the Colosseum was reserved by law for people of a specific status or profession. These levels reflected the rigid social and class POOR WOMEN system of imperial Rome. The emperor had & SLAVES a special reserved box seat at the arenaside; directly across from him was another box reserved for the Vestal Virgins, the priestesses of the goddess Vesta. Senators also had arena-side PLEBIANS seats; they brought their own chairs and sat in white togas with the broad purple stripe that designated their senatorial KNIGHTS class. Directly above the senators sat the knights (known as equites), followed SENATORS by ordinary Roman citizens (plebians). The knights and plebians also wore togas to the Colosseum. In the highest seats at the back of the amphitheater sat all women other than the Vestal Virgins, together with slaves and the very poor. ARENA
The stage of the arena was made of wood, which was covered with sand to absorb the blood of wounded gladiators and wild beasts. Most gladiators were prisoners of war, slaves bought for this purpose, or condemned criminals. Some free men volunteered to become gladiators; they were paid by sponsors and then made to swear a solemn oath of absolute submission to their trainers. Gladiators who managed to survive several battles often became public heroes and many accumulated great wealth in the arena.
Beneath the stage of the arena, the Colosseum featured a complex network of tunnels, temporary holding pens for the wild beasts, and cells for doomed prisoners awaiting battle up above. The underground maze also held a variety of state-of-the-art machinery. For example, a hand-operated elevator raised animals from the basement to the arena above. Counterweights and pulleys raised elaborate stage sets from underground up into the arena, as if by magic. And trap doors in the arena stage enabled gladiators to make dramatic entrances.
On days featuring gladiatorial shows, nearly 50,000 spectators would enter the Colosseum and take their seats under the shade of an elaborate awning, all in as little as 15 minutes. The Colosseum's remarkable efficiency in directing its crowds was due to the Roman introduction of individual tickets and assigned seating. Each ticket was marked with a number corresponding to 1 of 76 clearly designated public entrances. There were 80 entrances in all: 76 for the general public, 2 for gladiators, 1 for magistrates, and 1 reserved for the emperor. Tickets also designated a specific level and seat number, and each level was reserved for spectators of a particular social or political status.
During the 1st ten years of its existence the stadium was filled wit hwater and was used for mock navel battles but later however the romans realized thet it was damaging the foundations as well as the wooden flooring. Accounts of the Colosseum’s inaugural games in ad 80 refer to the arena suddenly being filled with water for reenactments of famous sea battles. Archaeologists have determined that an aqueduct leading to the site of the Colosseum could easily have filled the arena by using the hydraulic lifting mechanisms that were installed underground at the east and west ends of the amphitheater. Less clear, however, is how the Colosseum could have been kept watertight long enough to stage the spectacles before large crowds.
Theatre, one of the oldest and most popular forms of entertainment, in which actors perform live for an audience on a stage or in an other space designated for the performance. The space set aside for performances, either permanently or temporarily, is also known as a theater. Thus, A theatre is a space with a stage, and the audience is on one side of it. People need to hear, so a theatre is relatively small.
Roman theaters first appeared in the late Republic. They were semicircular in plan and consisted of a tall stage building abutting a semicircular orchestra and tiered seating area (cavea). Unlike Greek theaters, which were situated on natural slopes, Roman theaters were supported by their own framework of piers and vaults and thus could be constructed in the hearts of cities. Theaters were popular in all parts of the empire; impressive examples may be found at Orange (early 1st century ad), in France, and Sabratha (late 2nd century ad), in Libya
The seating capacity of Rome's Teatro Marcello, the largest theatre in the Roman Empire, was approximately 12,000. The cavea (the semi-circular bank of seats) would hold another 2,000 standees, bringing the total to about 14,000. The theatre was begun in 46 BC under the reign of Julius Caesar and dedicated to Claudius Marcello by Augustus Caesar between 13 and 11 BC. The outside diameter of the cavea was about 425 feet. The theatre, which still exists, became a fortress during the middle ages, the Pallazo Savelli [designed by architect Baldassare Peruzzi (1481-1537)] during the Renaissance, and is presently an upscale apartment complex. Obviously the remains of this theatre are not open to the public.
Throughout Western theatrical history, there have been six major types of theater buildings and basic arrangements of audience seating: (1) the proscenium or picture-frame stage, (2) the arena stage, or theater in the round, (3) the thrust or open stage, (4) the amphitheater, (5) the black box or studio, and (6) created or found space. All are still used but with varying degrees of popularity.
this is the ground plan of a typical Roman Theatre as published by William Smith in A Dictionary of Greek and romanAntiquities (1875). The main features are the semicircular orchestra and cavea, the narrow stage (pulpitum), the scena frons with 18 columns and five openings, and the arcade which surrounded the cavea. two of the five openings contain periaktoi, the three sided rotating prism that the Greeks may have used to indicate a change in location. Also, there are no entrances into either the orchestra or the cavea.In rugged country Roman architects, like their Greek predecessors, carved their theatres out of the hillside. On flat land the cavea was typically supported by two or more tiers of Roman arches.
The Theatre of Marcellus, Rome (23-13 B.C.), was the first permanent theatre in the capital. It was built on level ground near the river Tiber, with all the seating raised on arcaded and vaulted substructures which ingeniously incorporated radially aligned ramps and circumferential corridors to provide access to it. The tiers of seating were semi-circular and the stage ran from side to side in front of it, backed by a tall enclosing wall. The lower order in the external façade is Doric and the next is Ionic.
Roman Theatre at Volterra. These are the ruins of one of the better preserved Roman theatres. The main features are the three sections of the semicircular cavea and orchestra, the footings for the narrow stage (pulpitum), and the remains (including seven white columns) of the two story scena frons. This structure, unlike Teatro Marcello, was carved out of the very rocky hillside. For obvious safety reasons, only a small portion of this excavation (or scavi) is open to the public.
The Roman circus was an adaptation of the Greek Hippodrome. The term is also applied to the events that take place in the enclosure. Combats between gladiators, between wild beasts, and between men and wild beasts, usually held in an amphitheater, were also sometimes held in circuses. Tiers of seats surrounded the circus except at the end where the stalls for the horses and chariots were located. In the center of the circus, extending lengthwise almost from end to end, was a low wall, the spina, around which the riders or charioteers rode. The Roman populace often demanded “bread and circuses” from political candidates. The Roman general Pompey the Great is said on one occasion (55 bc) to have sponsored five days of circus games during which 500 lions and 20 elephants were killed. From the fall of the Roman Empire to the end of the Renaissance, the Roman circuses were gradually dismantled for their building stones. however, few traces of the circuses remain.
The holding capacity for the Circus Maximus was a quarter of a million people. This is about one quarter of Rome’s population. It was built in the 6th century B.C. by Tarquinius Pricus the fifth king of Rome. The history of Circus Maximus is troubled. It was twice destroyed by fire and on two occasions the stands collapsed killing many people. There was a long barrier (spina) that ran down the middle of the track. In additions to obelisks, fountains, statues, and columns, there are also two temples on the spina, one with seven large eggs and one with seven dolphins. At the end of each lap of the seven lap race one egg and one dolphin would be removed from each temple to keep the spectators and the racers informed on how many laps had been completed.
In the Circus Maximus, unlike the theatres of the day, both men and women could sit together. After a fire in 31 B.C., Agustus constructed the pulvinar which was used as an imperial box to watch the games and where the images of the Gods were installed after having been brought in procession from the capitol. The Emperor had a reserved seat as did the senators, knights, those who financially backed the races, those who presided over the competition, and the jury that awarded the prizes to the winners. In 10 B.C., Augustus also erected an obelisk on the spina as a dedication to the Sun and a monument of his conquest of Egypt.
Although the Circus Maximus was designed for chariot racing, other events were held there, including gladiator combats, wild animal hunts, athletic events, processions, and even mock naval battles. Caeser showed wild beasts in the circus and had a water channel ten feet wide and ten feet deep dug around the arena to serve as a protective moat. In A.D. 63, Nero filled in the channel to provide space for additional seating and so the animal fights were transferred to the Colosseum.
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