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Colosseum Glossary of Terms

Roman Colosseum

'The Roman Colosseum'

Colosseum Glossary of Terms
This useful Colosseum Glossary of Terms provides useful definitions and descriptions of many of the words and terms specifically connected to the Flavian Amphitheatre - The Roman Colosseum:

The Acta Diurna (meaning Daily Acts) was the Roman daily paper which contained news of gladiatorial contests

Amphitheatre: The amphitheatres were round or oval in shape. Their design was taken from joining two half circle wooden theatres together (the word "amphi" means 'both sides')

The arena was the area of the Colosseum where the events were held which was separated from the seating areas by a massive wall, faced with marble

Armamentarium: an armory to store weapons

Bisellium:
A richly ornamented seat of honor at the games

Cavea definition: The sloping floor and the seating area of the Colosseum which was divided into four main sections of seating stretching up and back from the edge of the arena

Clipea: A series of decorative bronze shields around the top stories of the Colosseum that were added by the Emperor Domitian

Cloaca Maxima: the main sewerage system of Rome

Colosseum: The name Colosseum (taken from the Latin word 'colosseus' meaning colossal) in reference to the gigantic statue of the Emperor Nero which had been previously erected near the site of the Colosseum

Corinthian Columns: The most ornate column on the third level of the Colosseum characterized by a slender fluted column having an ornate bell-shaped capital decorated with acanthus leaves

Cunei definition: The main sections were subdivided into wedges (wedge-shaped sections) called cunei
 
Domitian: The Emperor and younger son of Vespacian who added the Hypogeum and the top tier to the Colosseum

Domus Aurea: The palace of Nero was called the Domus Aurea (Latin for "Golden House")

Doric Columns: The simplest column on the first level of the Colosseum characterized by heavy fluted columns with plain, saucer-shaped capitals and base

Euripi: A large ditch (euripi) surrounding the arena providing protection from wild animals

Flavian Amphitheatre: Flavian Amphitheatre was originally given this name due to it being built by Titus Flavius Vespasianus (Emperor Vespasian) who founded the Flavian dynasty

Gradus definition: Rows of seats

Harena: Meaning sand in Latin, which covered the floor of the arena from which the word arena was derived - a reference to the thick layer of sand on the floor for the purpose of soaking up the blood

Honorius: The Emperor Honorius, finally decreed the end of gladiatorial contests in 399 AD

Hypogeum Definition: The area beneath the Colosseum was called the Hypogeum (meaning underground). The hypogeum consisted of two-level subterranean network of tunnels and 32 animal pens. It had 80 vertical shafts which provided instant access to the arena for animals and scenery

Imperial Box: A raised Imperial Box located on the podium (meaning place of honor) reserved for the Emperor and his family. The imperial Box was located at the north side of the arena

Ionic Columns: On the second level of the Colosseum, characterized by two opposed volutes (a spiral scroll-like ornament) in the capital

Lanista: Gladiator Trainer

Ludus Magnus: Gladiator School next to the Colosseum

Maeniana definition: Sections of the Colosseum

Maenianum primum: Seating reserved for the non-senatorial noble class called the Equites

Maenianum secundum imum - the better, lower seats for the wealthy plebeians

Maenianum secundum summum - the upper seats for the poor plebeians

Maenianum summum in ligneis: Consisted of wooden seats which were set up in the gallery running around the very top wall of the amphitheatre

Munera: Funeral games were held annually or every five years for the purpose of keeping the dead person's memory alive

Naumachiae: Naval battles held in the Colosseum

Podium definition: The podium was the terrace, a broad platform  about 15ft wide, situated at the top of the wall, which surrounded the arena and afforded the best views of the arena. The seating on the podium was moveable seats, or chairs

Porta Libitinensis: Gate of Death

Porta Sanavivaria. The Gate of Life where those who had been defeated but spared would exit the arena

Porta Triumphalis: Gate through which the victors would exit the arena

Praecinctiones definition: Curved passages and low walls which separated the sections

Pulvinar: Imperial Box

Saniarium: Where wounded gladiators were taken

Stucco: A durable finish for exterior walls, usually composed of cement, sand, and lime and applied while wet

Summum Choragium: Where machinery used in the Colosseum was stored

Telemachus: An Egyptian monk named Telemachus whose martyrdom was instrumental in ending the gladiator combats

Titus: The Emperor and son of Vespasian who completed the building of the Colosseum and presided over its opening

Travertine: A sedimentary stone made essentially of calcite

Tufa: A rock composed of compacted volcanic ash varying in size from fine sand to coarse gravel

Velarium: A Retractable Awning called the Velarium provided cover and shade in the Colosseum

Venationes: An imitation of the wild animal hunts

Vespasian: The Emperor who commissioned the building of the Colosseum

Vespasiano: Public toilets

Vestal Virgin Box: Located on the podium on the south side of the arena

Vomitaria definition: The Entrances to the Colosseum led to the vomitaria which were passages to the seats

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