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'Iconic Buildings: The Colosseum'

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The Colosseum | Magazine Article Content Syndication - Images by Paul Williams
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Iconic Buildings: The Colosseum

The Colosseum is one of the great iconic buildings of the world. Block buster films glorify the thrill of fearless Gladiators fighting to the death in the Colosseum to the roar of 80,000 Roman spectators, whilst Christians make pilgrimage to the Colosseum, which has been sanctified by the Pope, to pay homage to the Christians that were martyred there 1700 years ago. The shear scale of the Colosseum, the biggest building in the Roman Empire, is awe inspiring and a spectacular monument to Roman engineering. Its gruesome games are also a reminder of how blood thirsty thrills can be used to entertain the masses

Started in 72 AD at the order of emperor Vespasian, the Colosseum was completed by Titus in 80 AD. At the inaugural games over 9.000 animals were killed which set the benchmark for future events to beat.

In 106 Emperor Trajan celebrated his conquest of Dacia (Romania) with 123 days of games involving 10,000 animals and 11,000 gladiators. Elaborate sets were built in which hunters stalked exotic animals like Lions & Tigers from Africa or bears from Europe.

Before each games condemned prisoners were executed for the entertainment of the crowd. In 303 AD the first Christians joined the condemned in the Colosseum and were executed. Emperor Diocletian, who had aligned himself with Jupiter and the old Olympian Gods, decided that the Christians were making the old Gods angry with their worship of just one true God. He ordered everyone in the Empire to make sacrifice to the old pagan Gods, if they did not do so they were obviously Christian and were sentenced to death.

Christians were literally fed to the Lions in the Colosseum in a brutal martyrdom. These horrific scenes did not excite the crowd much though as the Christian simply knelt in prayer and accepted their fate with quiet dignity believing that, as martyrs, they were going to heaven. The crowd could not see why pious Christians who had spent their lives doing good deeds were being executed. By 311 Christian sympathy had grown to such an extent that the Christian persecutions were stopped and the new emperor, Constantine, made Christianity an official religion of the Roman Empire.

Gladiators are synonymous with the Colosseum. They were trained at great expense and there was great rivalry between the Gladiatorial schools. Gladiators were made up of slaves, ex soldiers or prisoner of war looking for wealth and freedom. The Roman Nobility financed the Gladiatorial games to show off their wealth and power. Gladiators could win riches and fame if they were successful and eventually but their freedom. Records show that retired gladiators talked of their defeats as well as wins which shows that not all fights were to the death, as Gladiators were far too valuable for their owners to waste needlessly.

The excitement of the life and death struggles that took place in the Colosseum still captivates visitors to the Colosseum. A visit is always accompanied by a contradictory mixture of emotions that both excite and disgust and leave visitors a little bit wiser.

 

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