Archive | July, 2017

Sports and Entertainment in Ancient Rome D.17.08.01

31 Jul

If you want to rule the city you have to provide people with bread and circuses. You have to give them food. You can’t have people starving in the streets because if they do you’ll have a riot. The other thing you have to do is keep them entertained, and the Romans kept each other entertained by staging in the Colosseum blood sports.
Sword fights to the death, hunting of wild animals, etcetera. Dio Cassius, the Roman historian, claims that over 9,000 animals were killed in the inaugural games in the year 80 C.E. to celebrate the opening of the Colosseum. And those were not the largest events.
Under the emperor Trajan, it’s believed that 10,000 animals were killed and 10,000 gladiators took part in a series of games that went on for 123 days. That is a lot of circuses, a lot of festivities.
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The Structure of the Colosseum D.17.07.31

30 Jul

The building is remarkable because it is not built into a hill, like a Greek theatre, but it’s a freestanding structure, and an enormous freestanding structure at that.
It can hold between, or it could in its day, hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators. And that is right up there with the largest stadiums built today. The largest stadium in Europe, for example, is the New Wembley stadium in London which holds 90,000, which is only a little more than what the Colosseum could hold 2,000 years ago.
So, what was the Colosseum used for? Well, it was used for gladiatorial fights, animal hunts, and executions. It could even be flooded for mock sea battles. And these games were put on by the emperors and other powerful Romans as ways of entertaining the population, keeping them happy.
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The Ruins of the Colosseum D.17.07.30

29 Jul

About a thousand years after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum was used as a sort of local stone quarry. If you wanted stone to build something, you went to the Colosseum, chipped off some stones, and went and built your house, or whatever it was you wanted to build.
This was only stopped in the 18th century, and so between about the 5th century and the 18th century, the place was torn up.
When it was first built, it was state of the art entertainment facility. It was funded in part by spoils from the sack of Jerusalem by Emperor Titus, the same invasion and destruction of Jerusalem that resulted in the destruction of Solomon’s Temple.
To give it some thought the Romans tore down the temple in Jerusalem and they built the Coliseum in Rome, and that gives you a sense of where their values were.
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Introduction to the Colosseum D.17.07.29

28 Jul

As long as the Colossus stands, so should Rome. When the Colossus falls, Rome shall fall. And when Rome falls, so falls the world.
Well the Colosseum is still standing. It’s not quite clear whether that saying refers to the Colosseum or the Colossus, which was an enormous statue of the Emperor Nero that was built next to the Colosseum and which is where the Colosseum gets its name. It is an enormously big building and it’s obviously colossal, but it’s named after the statue that’s not there anymore rather than its own massive size.
The other name for the Colosseum is the Flavian amphitheater and it was built between 72 and 80 CE.
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Augustus D.17.07.28

27 Jul

The first Roman emperor became the rule by one person not by the senate. Augustus’s successors expanded the empire into Britain, Romania, and parts of Germany before deciding in the second century that Rome was big enough and had reached its natural limits.
In the fifth century CE the empire was attacked by waves of nomadic invaders from the East tribes like Vandals, Huns, Goths, and Rome itself finally fell in 476 CE, but the eastern part of the empire ruled from Constantinople remained strong. And known as the Byzantine Empire, it survived until the 15th century, when it was finally conquered by the Ottoman Turks.
So Rome may not have been built in a day, but it certainly lasted a long time.
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Caesar Conquered D.17.07.27

26 Jul

Julius Caesar conquered Gaul with his army and by the time he had done that, it had taken him ten years.
The army was much more loyal to Caesar than they were to anyone in Rome and then Caesar was able to come back to Rome with his army and tell the senate what to do.
Caesar was famously assassinated by a group of senators who were afraid that he would proclaim himself king. We don’t know if he planned to do that or not. But his adopted son Octavian avenged his father by defeating Anthony and Cleopatra, and killing all the people who killed Caesar.
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Julius Caesar D.17.07.26

25 Jul

In the first century BCE, Julius Caesar conquered Gaul, what’s now France. At that point, in the first century time of Julius Caesar, the old republican system with rule by a senate of wealthy men began to crumble under the stresses of governing a huge empire.
Rome had never been a democracy in the sense that the senate really was an oligarchy and there were a lot of people who weren’t represented in senatorial government.
It was ruled by a group instead of by an individual. In the first century BCE, this begins to fall apart. Huge armies were needed to subjugate new territories and their generals became more powerful than the politicians back at Rome.
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