Monday, May 10, 2010

The Colosseum

Most of the museums are closed on Mondays in Rome so we decided to spend the day exploring the Colosseum, the place in Rome where the Gladiators fought. As we walked along the street approaching it, the size slowly became apparent, it’s huge. This time we opted for a tour guide. He reminded us that during the summer the temperature could reach 105F in the full sun while today it was in the 70s, nice weather. The Colosseum was built for the entertainment of Roman citizens and the seating arrangement was by how important you were in Rome. The tickets were hard to come by and were marked as to the seat number you had.
However, the form of the entertainment was something else. There were professional gladiators and then there were the slaves. The professionals made up roughly 5% of the combatants and you can guess who didn’t make it. The unfortunates who made up the 95% part were mostly criminals and conquered armies. In one notable time period, there were 10,000 gladiators slain over the course of two days! There were an estimated 500,000 slain over the lifetime of the Colosseum before the gladiator fights were stopped. Human life was cheap back then.

Also added to the mix was wild animals brought back from countries conquered by Rome which were set upon the slaves for the entertainment of the spectators. It is hard to imagine such things today. Some of the Olympic games were imported from Greece but they didn’t catch on, it seemed the Romans liked their blood.

It still felt strange to be walking in the exact paths taken by all those spectators so many years ago, walking on the same stones, sitting on the same stone benches, wow. The floor was covered with wood planks where now the underlying chambers are visible. Other parts have been damaged and some of the facing stone removed for other buildings in Rome. Now there is a great restoration underway as there is with all the antiquities.

In Spain and France, most of the cars were just as big as in the states but not so in Rome. There were many cars that were just one passenger big. They were so short that they could be parked directly into the curb instead of parallel parked. It looked funny but it was certainly efficient. Even more numerous were the many scooters, all over the place and dipping in and out of traffic, always going in front of everyone.