But over 2000 years ago, what Romans did do to enjoy themselves? They had the theater, dinner parties and the spectacle of the games. What games? Chariot racing was big but the most exciting of all – the gladiatorial games.
In Rome, the Flavian Amphitheatre, known more as the Colosseum, was built in 80 CE (or AD). Built by 30,000 Jews enslaved by the Jewish War, the oval Colosseum had 4 tiers, the first 3 with open corridors, called vomitoria, or 80 arches, the fourth closed. Pillars differed by each tier – the first had Doric, the second Ionic and the third Corinthian. There were marble statues in every archway. At the very top, moveable awnings prevailed. Sailors managed these because it was similar to ship’s sails.
The seats and half-walls that separated sections were made of wood, covered with marble. Citizens of each social class had assigned seats. The top class, including senators and the Vestal Virgins, were on the first tier along with a podium for the emperor though it is gone; the next was the Equestrian class, the third by plebeians and women (contrary to most of Hollywood’s depictions that it was integrated). Estimates conclude it could seat up to 80,000 people.
The sands of the Arena held the contests. There were 2 doors to bring the gladiators in and the dead out. Underneath the sands was a complex know as the hypogeum that housed animals and fighters before the contests. Over 80 elevators raised them and the scenery changes up through the floor, to make for quick work. Slaves went out between matches to rake the sands between contests. Very rarely did gladiators fight to the death. To kill one meant a loss of investment – a monetary loss.
Games began with the beasts fighting – often-misaligned fights like a bear against a bull. Gladiators also fought the beasts as well. Many animals were too frightened to fight – the sounds of the crowds cheering scared them and their keepers had to poke them to even get out of their cages in the first place!
Noontime was lunch and the executions of criminals. The afternoon games held the better gladiators, those rock stars of the era. Many of the champions had followers who came to watch them win. These people could by trinkets of the champions through the street vendors. The best champions could also have their ‘services’ bought by a Roman woman, if so desired.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum was used as a hospital, a place for the homeless, a theater for entertainment and a place for orgies until it was ransacked for its marble by the Vatican in the Renaissance era. Surprisingly, it remains standing, still a lure to people today – one of the glories of the Roman Empire!
About the Author:
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Gina Danna has spent the better part of her life reading. History has been her love and she spent numerous hours devouring historical romance stories, dreaming of writing one of her own. Years later, after receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, writing academic research papers and writing for museum programs and events, she finally found the time to write her own stories of historical romantic fiction.
Now, under the supervision of her three dogs and three cats, she writes amid a library of research books, with her only true break away is to spend time with her other life long dream – her Arabian horse – with him, her muse can play. Visit the author’s website here – buy her books here