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The Colosseum, Or The Coliseum, Originally The Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium, Italian Anfiteatro


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The Colosseum, Or The Coliseum, Originally The Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium, Italian Anfiteatro


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The Colosseum, Or The Coliseum, Originally The Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium, Italian Anfiteatro
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The Colosseum, Or The Coliseum, Originally The Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium, Italian Anfiteatro

The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium, Italian Anfiteatro Flavio or Colosseo), is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering.

Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started in 72 AD[1] under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus,[2] with further modifications being made during Domitian's reign (81–96).[3] The name "Amphitheatrum Flavium" derives from both Vespasian's and Titus's family name (Flavius, from the gens Flavia).

Capable of seating 50,000 spectators,[4][5] the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.

Although in the 21st century it stays partially ruined because of damage caused by devastating earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions and still has close connections with the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit "Way of the Cross" procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.[6]

The Colosseum is also depicted on the Italian version of the five-cent euro coin. Name
the Western side of the Colosseum

The Colosseum's original Latin name was Amphitheatrum Flavium, often anglicized as Flavian Amphitheater. The building was constructed by emperors of the Flavian dynasty, hence its original name, after the reign of Emperor Nero.[7] This name is still used in modern English, but generally the structure is better known as the Colosseum. In antiquity, Romans may have referred to the Colosseum by the unofficial name Amphitheatrum Caesareum; this name could have been strictly poetic [8][9] as it was not exclusive to the Colosseum; Vespasian and Titus, builders of the Colosseum, also constructed an amphitheater of the same name in Puteoli (modern Pozzuoli).[10]

The name Colosseum has long been believed to be derived from a colossal statue of Nero nearby[3] (the statue of Nero was named after the Colossus of Rhodes)[citation needed]. This statue was later remodeled by Nero's successors into the likeness of Helios (Sol) or Apollo, the sun god, by adding the appropriate solar crown. Nero's head was also replaced several times with the heads of succeeding emperors. Despite its pagan links, the statue remained standing well into the medieval era and was credited with magical powers. It came to be seen as an iconic symbol of the permanence of Rome.

In the 8th century, a famous epigram attributed to the Venerable Bede celebrated the symbolic significance of the statue in a prophecy that is variously quoted: Quamdiu stat Colisæus, stat et Roma; quando cadet colisæus, cadet et Roma; quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus ("as long as the Colossus stands, so shall Rome; when the Colossus falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, so falls the world").[11] This is often mistranslated to refer to the Colosseum rather than the Colossus (as in, for instance, Byron's poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage). However, at the time that the Pseudo-Bede wrote, the masculine noun coliseus was applied to the statue rather than to what was still known as the Flavian amphitheatre.

The Colossus did eventually fall, possibly being pulled down to reuse its bronze. By the year 1000 the name "Colosseum" had been coined to refer to the amphitheatre. The statue itself was largely forgotten and only its base survives, situated between the Colosseum and the nearby Temple of Venus and Roma.[12]

The name further evolved to Coliseum during the Middle Ages. In Italy, the amphitheatre is still known as il Colosseo, and other Romance languages have come to use similar forms such as le Colisée (French), el Coliseo (Spanish) and o Coliseu (Portuguese).






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