Purpose of the Colosseum

Roman Colosseum

'The Roman Colosseum'

Purpose of the Colosseum
The purpose of the Roman Colosseum was as follows:

  • Purpose 1: To provide a permanent purpose-built arena in the centre of Ancient Rome for staging various forms of entertainment for the Ancient Romans - a gift to Roman Citizens

  • Purpose 2: To create a massive, breath-taking structure conveying the wealth, might and power of Rome

  • Purpose 3: To seat up to 80,000 Romans, each with an unobstructed view, creating a diversion for unemployed and unruly Plebs

  • Purpose 4: To provide a showcase for exotic, wild animals taken from all corners of the Roman Empire, once again to convey the extent of Rome's conquests of different countries

  • Purpose 5: To ensure the support and popularity of the Emperors Vespasian and Titus (members of the Flavian dynasty of emperors) amongst the Plebs (the 'Mob')

  • Purpose 6: To utilize and showcase the latest Roman engineering and building techniques, including a labyrinth of tunnels under the arena containing 32 animal pens and lift systems operated by ropes and pulleys to facilitate the fast movement of animals, gladiators, prisoners and stage scenery in and out of the Colosseum arena

  • Purpose 7: To stage reconstructions of famous Roman battle victories, including sea battles requiring the arena to be flooded, encouraging Roman patriotism

  • Purpose 8: To provide advanced crowd control features, such as 76 separate entrances, to ensure the massive crowds who flocked to the Gladiator games were kept in order

Concept of the Colosseum
The concept of the Flavian Amphitheatre, as it was first called, grew from the custom of wealthy Romans holding funeral games to honor the dead. Ancient Romans believed that human sacrifice at the dead person's funeral would appease the pagan gods and ensure a satisfactory entrance into the afterlife. The funeral games were organised and paid for by wealthy Roman aristocrats and Patricians as public events. Gladiator combats, were at first held in small wooden arenas. As the popularity of the games grew large amphitheatres were built to house the games. The amphitheatres were round or oval in shape. This design was taken from joining two half-circle wooden theatres together (the word "amphi" means 'both sides'). The wealthy Roman patricians who were responsible for staging such events grew in popularity, so they became political events by which prominent Romans could gain popularity with the mob. Eventually the provision of the Gladiatorial Games were seen as a method to please the Roman gods and goddesses and avert Rome from disaster. By the first century providing gladiator games became a requirement of some of the major public offices and it was not long before the concept of the permanent stone arena was born which would become known as the Colosseum.

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