May 17 • 25M

A Podcast About Rome. Episode 12: The Colosseum.

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Agnes Crawford
A chronological history of Rome focusing on a building, a sculpture, a painting, or an artefact each episode.
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The Flavian Amphitheatre is undoubtedly one of the most famous buildings in the world, and an extraordinary manifestation of the control exercised by the Roman Empire over the citizenry. As Juvenal spat with disdain:

“…for the [Roman] People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions, everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses” (Satires, Satire X)

Colosseum. 7 May 2023.

If grain imported from Egypt and Sicily kept Roman bellies from rumbling, then public entertainments gave Roman souls a state of jingoistic superiority whilst reminding them at every turn of the power of the Empire. The Flavian Amphitheatre, better known as the Colosseum, was a wildly cynical machine for maintaining a docile population through horrific violence. It was also an incredibly efficient structure for getting people in and out quickly and without the brawls that could see revolution lurking at every turn. As a building for managing large numbers of people it worked so well that it remains the prototype of every sports stadium you’ve ever been to.

The brick and concrete skeleton of the Colosseum under leaden skies. 14 May 2023

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