On entering, we see the arena straight ahead of us. The stage for shows. In its place you can see the cellars which housed equipment used to prepare and carry out the games. The two underground floors housed the lifts and hoists with their counter weights, of which we can still see the rails today; they were the special effects of the time, used to hoist upanimals and gladiators who burst into the arena through trapdoors, suddenly appearing in a burst of white dust giving the audience great surprise effects. A complex system of hinges and lifts also allowed them to hoist up set-designed backdrops, used for the hunt events.
So, what happened inside the Coliseum?
Lots of different shows were put on in the amphitheatre, at different times, following aspecific time schedule: in the morning the "Venationes" - fights between exotic animals, or between men and animals. But also less cruel and definitely more unique events took place like the famous exhibition of an elephant who knew how to write words in the sand with its trunk.
The event the audience enjoyed most was definitely the gladiators. Towards midday there was a break during which theyremoved the bodies and spread more sand on the arena floor. A deafening noise arose from the audience; to the blaring of trumpets, the gladiators paraded into the packed arena triumphantly. They came from an underground passageway linked directly to the Gladiators' barracks, the Ludus Magnus and were welcomed by fans like real heroes.
But who were the gladiators?
The term gladiator comes fromGladius, the short sword used by legionaries. Rarely were they people who had to fight against their will. Normally, gladiators were prisoners of war who were given the choice to be slaves or to fight in the arena for a limited period of time at the end of which they would be free, often after having put aside a discrete sum of money. The profession gave them great popularity, especially with thewomen, who even paid out large sums of money just to spend a night of passion with one of them.
Arch of Constantine
Right next to the Colosseum stands the Arch of Constantine, the most recent of the three remaining imperial arches in Rome. The 21 meter high arch is well preserved and richly decorated.
The statues at the top were taken from the Forum of Trajan. They depict Daciancaptured soldiers, defeated by the Trajan army.
The reliefs between the statues were created for Marcus Aurelius while the roundels (and possibly even the arch itself) are from emperor Hadrian's time. Some figures in the roundels were modified to resemble Constantine.
The decorations at the central and lower part were created specifically for this triumphal arch. The frieze shows the army ofConstantine driving the troops of Maxentius into the Tiber. These decorations are visibly of a much lower quality than those from the era of Hadrian and Trajan, showing that the artistic level during the time of Constantine was substantially lower than in the past, symbolic for the decline of the Roman Empire.
Constantine believed that his improbable win over Maxentius was theresult of the help of the Christian God. As a result, during Constantine's reign persecution of Christians ended and Christianity became the official religion in the Roman empire. He also moved the capital of the empire from Rome to Constantinople in 325 AD (before known as Byzantium, now Istanbul).
Los gladiadores romanos en el Coliseo --
Al entrar, se ve la arena al frente de nosotros. Elescenario para espectáculos, cuyo piso fue una vez hecha de una mezcla de ladrillos y madera, ahora ha desaparecido por completo. En su lugar se puede ver las bodegas que los equipos alojados utilizados para preparar y llevar a cabo los juegos. Las dos plantas subterráneas alojados los ascensores y montacargas con sus contrapesos, de los cuales aún se pueden ver los rieles de hoy, eran los efectos...