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Heinz-Jürgen Beste

The construction of the Flavian Amphitheatre was financed by the Emperor Vespasian in 71–72 ce with the riches from the conquest of Jerusalem and carried out by his son Titus, who inaugurated the building in 80 ce. Domitian (81–96) completed the amphitheatre district, which extended from the Velian Hill to the present Basilica of San Clemente, and included the four barracks (ludi), the infirmary (samiarium), the weapons store (armamentarium), the mortuary (spoliarium), and the barracks of the sailors of the fleet of Misenum (Castra Misenatium) whose task it was to oper­ate the velum, the awning that shaded the spectators from the sun. The building became known as the Colosseum from a colossal statue that stood near it. The amphitheatre was in use as such until 523 ce, when it is recorded that it was the scene of the last animal hunt, organized by Anicius Maximus at the beginning of his consulate.

Article

D. L. Bomgardner

The earliest surviving permanent amphitheatres are found in Campania, the well-preserved example at Pompeii (see figure 1), called spectacula (amphitheatre) by its builders (CIL 10. 852), being the only precisely datable example (c. 70bce). It is likely, however, that this construction replaced an earlier building. Golvin has now suggested that a pre-Roman lozenge-shaped monument preceded the Roman construction, postulating the later Roman addition of stone elliptical seating in the lowest zone of the cavea.1

Capua, a renowned centre for gladiatorial excellence in the late republic, had an early amphitheatre, datable to the republican period (Gracchan or at least the second half of 2nd century bce); this has recently been excavated (see figure 2).

Welch examines the earliest permanent amphitheatres, linking the majority closely with the foundation of Sullan veteran colonies.2 However, see also Hufschmid for important critiques of this survey and its methodology.