I feel anxious as I arrive, this being my maiden visit to an amphitheatre and am overawed by its sheer size. Amazement as I step into the shadow of this great building, I am in a daze. As I take my seat my heart is racing in anticipation of what’s to follow. The first detail you observe of the Flavian amphitheatre is its immense size. After the initial shock, you begin notice further details. The arch system for instance is a series of arches framed within columns, each arch is directly above the other, architects call this arrangement an arcade.
Something else you do not grasp until you arrive is the height of the arches; they are over three times the height of myself. There is an elaborate design of decoration on the fai?? ade of the amphitheatre. Surrounding the arches there are pillars with a beam or entablature and cornice above it. This amphitheatre exudes wealth and imperial splendour. After entering at my numbered entrance I climb the stairs to my seat, through pushes and shoves from spectators it is possible to recognise the classical orders of the columns.
First is the Roman Doric order, then I managed to identify the Ionic order, and then the most difficult to identify due to height was the Corinthian order. As I sit in the upper second gallery waiting for the 100-day inaugural games to begin I believe I understand why we are so enthralled by this. Inside here there is a honeycomb of pillars and walls made of brick, stone and concrete. Architects have not designed like this before but they have executed it beautifully. The roar of the crowd as Emperor Titus enters is deafening, which intensifies the heat even more so.
Now begins an event to match the great Flavian amphitheatre. Word Count 300 Part 2 essay Question Which aspects of the Roman games are the most difficult for someone living in the twenty-first century to understand? How far can the aspects you have chosen be explained in terms of Roman values? This essay will give examples of, and discuss five aspects of the Roman games that twenty-first century citizens will find difficult to identify with. The aspects chosen are; gladiatorial fights, the killing of wild animals and the division of social classes within the amphitheatre.
Gladiators were men forced to fight for their lives in amphitheatres across the Roman Empire. They were imprisoned and enslaved for being criminals and when ‘in the wrong place at the right time’ were also enemies that been captured in conflict. The image the gladiators portrayed to the spectators was one of bravery, fearlessness and to many Roman women this transcended to sexual allure. However in reality, life for a Roman gladiator was not so attractive. The exhilaration of whether or not a gladiator would live or whether he would die was all part of the entertainment for a spectator.
Even once a gladiator was killed his torment was not yet over, he would have been dragged out of the ‘Gate of Death’ before the next event began. Human life, for many in the present-day, is regarded as sacred. Individuals are now more aware of the fate that will eventually bestow them, so consequently treat their time preciously. Therefore there is no need for an entertainment such as killing. We believe in our culture, that murder is morally wrong, so we will always strive to protect life, and not exhibit it for pleasure and the amusement of others. This moral dilemma is where the Romans fall short of our ideals.
Gladiator fights in the arena was where criminals and rebels were dealt with ‘The arena was one place where Roman society dealt with them. It was a symbol of the ordered world… ‘ (Resource Book 1, 2003, p104) A primary source from the Roman era also reinforces this value ‘… in the days when it was criminals who killed one another, no lesson in how to endure in the face of pain could be more efficacious… ‘ (Resource Book 1, 2003, p98) Roman spectators also had the power in the amphitheatres to set free the condemned gladiators; this demonstrates once again that these Roman values were well established in gladiatorial ames. ‘ the ultimate democracy; the crowd decided who might live again. ‘ (Resource Book 1, 2003, p106) A further aspect of the Roman games was the killing of wild animals.
‘In the amphitheatre the animals were hunted, made to fight one another and let loose on men. ‘ (Resource Book 1, 2003, p117) The number of wild animals brought back to play a part in the games was extortionate. Consequently so many were to be seen and killed that it was believed that an emperor had ‘… entirely eradicated the lion-population of North Africa. (Resource Book 1, 2003, p104) In contrast, people living in the present-day do all they can to help conserve these animals. People want to be able to see them animals in the future, and if they were to be taken and killed their numbers would decrease. We as people have learnt from our mistakes and are no longer willing to let animals become extinct by killing them. However, although it causes controversy, the killing of wild animals for pleasure still does continue. Modern day versions are Spanish bullfights, but are a sport not to everybody’s taste.
When the Roman Empire expanded, and men had to travel across wild terrain they encountered wild animals. Wild animals will attack if given the opportunity, so this was their motivation. It was, after all a way of dealing with them, and rather than purely killing them, they used them in arenas. ‘For the Romans, the struggle against nature was very real. To kill wild beasts meant to protect mankind. ‘ (Resource Book 1, 2003, p103) Another facet of the Roman games someone living in the twenty-first century will find hard to understand is the division of social classes within the arena.
In Roman society status was important, so subsequently when they all came together in the arena the social classes were kept separate. The emperor took up the most noteworthy postion in the amphitheatre so all could see him. Then what follows is a division of classes throughout. At the lowest level the rich, VIP’s and senate. Then the largest, most customary class with average Roman people in it. Then further to the top of the arena, far away from the action, were the women and slaves.
As well as being kept separate in seating, the social classes were also kept separate in entering and exiting the arena and even through the standard of their surroundings while there. The wealthier Romans, who had better seating, also had better corridors. They were wider and decorated with marble, while the poorer social classes had less. This division continues up to the women and slaves at the top of the arena that only sat on wooden benches. In the present day segregation of any kind is unacceptable in modern western societies.
Discrimination of age, race, sexual orientation and disability will not be tolerated any longer. A modern day amphitheatre, the football stadium would never entertain the idea of separating the rich from the poor and the men from the women. No longer will social divisions be allowed. Roman society was unconcerned with the rights of Roman citizens, and this was unimportant to the Roman people who were satisfied, as social classes can give a sense of belonging and order. It was a culture where everyone knew his or her place.
Ironically, one thing the rich and poor did have in common when in the arena was their love for bloodshed, it did not matter who you were, just where you were seated. This essay has aimed to introduce aspects of the Roman games that someone living in the twenty-first century will find hard to understand. We cannot expect for the Romans to view our take on humanity. Roman values are very different from our own; we live in a society of political correctness, and this may cloud our judgement when viewing the Roman games. We need to remember that there will always be ‘… things that we find attractive about them, and others that are repulsive. ‘