circus: chariot race track amphitheatre: oval building for gladiatorial games, wild beast shows, etc. Definitions
Located along a brook that ran between the Aventine and Palatine hills traditionally was thought to have been founded in the sixth century BC by Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome By channeling and bridging the stream, an euripus was created that served as a barrier (spina) for the track. Livy records that in 329 BC permanent starting gates added. The Circus Maximus (The Greatest Circus)
Starting gates rebuilt in 174 BC Seven large wooden eggs set up between columns on the spina to indicate the completion of each lap. Reconstruction by Julius Caesar (60-44 B.C.) History of the Circus Maximus
Pulvinar After a fire in 31 BC, Augustus constructed the pulvinar, a shrine built into the seating below the Palatine Hill, which was used as an imperial box to watch the games and where images of the gods were installed after having been brought in procession (pompa) from the Capitol.
The Starting Gate In 33 BC, Agrippa supplemented the eggs with seven bronze dolphins, and had another set of eggs placed near the starting gates to mark laps for the charioteers.
The Obelisk The obelisk taken by Augustus from Heliopolis soon after the annexation of Egypt in 30 BC was the first to be brought to Rome. In 10 BC, Augustus also erected it on the spina as a dedication to the Sun and monument of his conquest of Egypt. Obelisks of Rome
In 1587, it was excavated at the order of Pope Sixtus V and removed to its present site in the Piazza del Popolo. The Obelisk Today
Dionysius of Halicarnassus described the Circus Maximus in 7 BC as "one of the most beautiful and admirable structures in Rome." It measured approximately 2,035 feet in length and 460 feet in width and could seat 150,000. Outside, says Dionysius, "there are entrances and ascents for the spectators at every shop, so that the countless thousands of people may enter and depart without inconvenience." Inhabited by cooks, astrologers, and prostitutes, it was in this arcade of wooden shops (tabernae) that the disastrous fire of AD 64 broke out during the reign of Nero. Dionysus of Halicarnassus on the Circus Maximus
Possibly quarried at Aswan in the reign of Nebkaure Amenemhet II (B.C. 19th Century), and erected at the pylon of the Temple of the Sun in Heliopolis. Erected at the Julian Forum in Alexandria by the order of Octavianus (the first Roman Emperor Augustus [reigned B.C. 27 - A.D. 14]) In A.D. 37 (40?), the then Roman Emperor Caligula transported it to Rome, and erected it in the Caligula Circus (later the Nero Circus (Circus Gai et Neronis), or the Vatican Circus). The time elapsed....., the then Pope Sixtus V [reigned 1585-1590] directed the obelisk to be re- erected at the center of the colonnaded square, so-called St. Peter's Square in 1586, in front of the "new" Basilica of St. Peter, which was under construction at that time. Obelisk of Nero’s Circus
Circus of Maxentius The Circus of Maxentius, built at the beginning of the fourth century near the Via Appia. It is the best preserved of all Roman circuses. It was 513 meters long and 91 meters wide, and held some 10,000 people.
The Obelisk Created at Aswan (Upper Egypt, 640 km south of Cairo) by the order of Roman Emperor Domitianus for his accession of Domitianus in A.D. 81. Carried to Rome and erected between the Serapeum Temple Maxentius [reigned 306-312] moved it to the Circo di Massenzio. At some unknown date, the obelisk was toppled and broken into a few pieces. Finally, in 17th Century, Pope Innocentius X [reigned 1644-1655] decided to re-erect it in Piazza Navona in commemoration of his election. Because he had lived in the building which faces the Piazza Navona.
Stadium of Domitian Built by Domitian in the Campus Martius for athletic contests Used for several years for gladiatorial combats after the Colosseum was damaged by fire in 217. Arcades were occupied by brothels Restored by Alexander Severus, and sometimes called in the Middle Ages circus Alexandri
Seats for about 15,000 spectators According to the legend, S. Agnes met a martyr's death in the brothels in the arcades of this stadium, and in her honour a church was built in the ninth century in the middle of the cavea on the west side, which was afterwards known as S. Agnese in Agone or de Cryptis Agonis The Piazza Navona, the largest in the city, now called officially Circo Agonale, preserves almost exactly the shape and size of the stadium. The piazza itself corresponds closely with the arena, the length of which seems to have been about 250 metres, and the surrounding buildings stand on the ruins of the cavea. Under the church of S. Agnese remains of brick and concrete walls, travertine pilasters and the seats of the cavea are still to be seen, and other traces have been found beneath the existing buildings at other points. For excavations in the sixteenth century, see LS ii.228 ‑ 231; iii.224 ‑ 225; iv.190; LR 498 ‑ 500; HJ 592 ‑ 594. Piazza Navonna
The Flavian Amphitheatre Begun by the founder of the Flavian dynasty, Vespasian Reached the top of the second level before his death in AD79 His son and successor Titus added the third and fourth levels and celebrated the dedication of the enlarged structure in AD80 (Martial’s Spectalces) Further minor additions were made by Titus's brother and successor Domitian Later restoration work, especially in the 3rd century The exterior dimensions of the wall are 188m length, 15m breadth, circumference 527m and height 50m HEIGHT: 48.5m DATE: ca.AD70-80
Built on the site of Nero's large lake in the gardens of his palace, the Golden House
Exterior decorated with a facade of engaged columns and pilasters that serve no structural purpose Half-columns of the first three levels from the ground floor upwards display the Greek architectural orders: 1. Doric (with a cushion-like capital-piece above the actual column) 2. Ionic (with spiralling volutes at the capital) 3. Corinthian (with a capital in the form of acanthus leaves) The top storey has Corinthian pilasters. The Facade
Provision had to be made for the drainage of the site through a sewer before any construction could begin Natural flow of water through the excavated hollow was useful for the staging of mock naval battles in the arena The substructure goes down 6.08m to a brick pavement excavated to reveal the remains of dens for wild beasts, elevators and other devices
For the spectators' protection against wild beast attacks a fence surrounded the fighting area Behind this and on a platform about 4m above the arena was the podium for distinguished spectators, particularly city officials. Above this is the cavea, where most of the seating was placed, consisting of two main sections 20 rows of marble seats (visible in the center) Seats
velarium: fabric canopy provided relief from sun Velarium
Venerable Bede (c. 673-735) While the Colosseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Colosseum falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall.
. Spread all over the empire there were more than 200 large and countless small amphitheatres, of which almost half are situated in Italy. Arles (S France), ca 80, outer: 136 by 107m, arena: 69 by 38m El Djem (Tunisia), ca 230. outer: 149 by 124m, length arena: 65m Leptis Magna (Libya), ca 60, outer 100 by 80m Nîmes (France), ca 80, outer: 132 by 101m, arena: 69 by 38m Pompeji (Italy), ca 80 BC, outer: 135 by 104m Rome (Italy), 70-80, outer: 188 by 156m, arena: 80 bu 54m Amphitheatres in the Roman World
Arles (S France), ca 80, outer: 136 by 107m, arena: 69 by 38m
Nimes (France), ca 80, outer: 132 by 101m, arena: 69 by 38m
Pompeii (Italy), ca 80 BC, outer: 135 by 104m This is the oldest amphitheatre and was built in 80 BC. Held 12,000 spectators.